My UK Christian friends are always tell me how weird it is that American Christians insist that government operate within Constitutional limits. Why not let government ban self-defense? Why not let government to run education and healthcare? Why not let government to control energy production and consumption? Why not let government open the borders for multiculturalism?
Here’s an example of what happens in a country where Christians decide to abdicate law and policy to secular leftists.
Evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham’s seven-city tour of the United Kingdom is now a trial, as all seven venues have dropped him.
Graham’s canceled dates likely are due to an “an outcry over his homophobic and Islamophobic comments,” CNN reports.
[…]Graham has been outspoken about other cultural issues, including gay rights and radical Islam, both hot topics in the U.K., where Islam is the fastest growing religion. Graham has said gays should go to “conversion therapy” to change, and once called Islam “evil.”
Interestingly, although multiple venues canceled Graham this year, this isn’t the first time the U.K. has had enough of the evangelist. In 2017, several members of Parliament moved to ban Graham from the U.K. for “hate speech” regarding gays and Muslims.
At the time, a “petition against Graham being granted a visa” had gathered 4,600 signatures. Nina Parker, pastor of Liberty Church in Blackpool, who organized the petition, said Graham’s presence would be “extremely destructive.”
Parker told The Guardian: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.”
Censorship of free speech, discourse, and individual autonomy in the United Kingdom has increased in the past several years.
British officials have cracked down on internet freedom. Even though several groups have pushed back against the government’s flagship internet regulation policy—which is so vague it covers nearly every kind of speech existent—it’s been an uphill battle.
In several dramatic cases, parents have lost their rights to their sick children as the U.K.’s court system usurped them and decided what care was best—typically, a removal of life support against the parents’ wishes.
Of course, any discourse offering a different perspective on LGBT groups or anything that might be seen as anti-transgender receives the most censorship—including being fired from one’s job…
I’ve blogged before about how the police in the UK occupy themselves with monitoring the Internet to punish citizens who dissent from the UK’s promotion of LGBT rights. If you disagree with LGBT rights, you’re sure to get a visit from armed policemen. On the other hand, the police officers don’t have any interest in investigating multiple sex-trafficking rings in multiple UK cities being run by immigrants from Middle Eastern countries. They don’t care about the gang-raping of fatherless teen girls – the important thing is to not look Islamophobic. That’s how they keep their jobs – they attack critics of the government’s LGBT and open borders policies so the government can be re-elected. When they’re not suppressing dissent from the government, they’re blocking off parents from taking their child home from a government-run hospitals that decided that the child (e.g. – Alfie) is beyond medical treatment.
That’s big government in the UK, and it’s supported by many, many conservative Christian pastors, who think that the free and open practice of Christianity is somehow compatible with an overpowered secular left centralized government. So, the conservative Christians in the UK love to mock the gun rights and low tax rates of American Christians, even as they can’t even safeguard their own freedom of speech and religious liberty. American Christians knew that big government and widespread dependency on welfare programs would destroy our religious liberty, so we fought it. They capitulated.
I’ve spoken to several prominent Christians in the UK, and even some who are deeply involved in apologetics and pro-life causes. I just want to be really clear. These people are so bad at Christian worldview, that they literally vote in the secular leftists who then turn around and enact government-funded abortion, LGBT fascism and sex-trafficking rings run by unskilled immigrants from the Middle East. Then they have the temerity to COMPLAIN about the policies of the leaders they voted for.
Public school teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona are striking this spring, affecting hundreds of thousands of students. The teachers say that spending more money on education will help children learn more. There’s an excellent article by Joy Pullmann in The Federalist that looks at whether increasing spending raises student performance. (H/T Vanessa)
Oklahoma teachers want a $10,000 raise, and Arizona teachers want a 20% increase in base pay. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get anything near that for my annual raise.
Will raising taxes on taxpayers in order to spend more on education improve student performance? Joy says we can look at the past in order to understand whether spending more money gets results.
Research has also long and conclusively shown that school spending hikes usually don’t go to teachers, they go to administrators and other bloat outside classrooms. So the kids are just unions’ human shields on their way to raid the kids’ public bank accounts — again.
[…]As the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey has shown, U.S. public K-12 spending has skyrocketed over the past 50 years with no improvement in academic outcomes. Other researchers repeatedly find increasing spending doesn’t help students. That’s because, as noted above, schools typically don’t send more money to classrooms, they use it to increase bureaucracy and nonacademic programming.
Got that? When taxpayers throw money at public schools, the teachers don’t see very much of that money. It gets put into education administrators and indoctrinators – people whose sole job is to make sure that the children accept secular left values.
Check out this graph of education spending compared to test scores:
Spending more doesn’t produce the results that parents are looking for, for their children. Parents want children to learn what they need to find work and become financially independent. But teachers, adminsitrators, etc. have a very different goal: making little secular leftists. And that’s what they use increased funding for that. Numbers don’t lie.
Another way that public schools waste money is by promising massive gold-plated public sector pensions to teachers – pensions that no private sector taxpayer would ever get themselves. And they use any increase in their budgets to pay the pensions of teachers who are retired, and not helping students to learn.
I saw a really nice map of the United States over at Daily Signal, with all the outstanding pensions liabilities, and the amount ranges from about $7600 in Tennessee (the best state in the union) to tens of thousands in the big blue socialist states.
States promised such outsized retirement benefits to the last generation of public-school teachers that they’re paying off this promise with current revenues. A national average of $6,800 per year per teacher pays former teachers’ pensions that state and local governments failed to save up for while those teachers were working. That’s money that could have instead boosted current teachers’ salaries. The problem is only going to get worse as more baby boomers retire and legislatures continue to hide their heads in the sand.
It’s not just that states and districts failed to save up for pensions they knew would come due, it’s that they offered literally the cushiest pensions available to teachers, notes a 2016 study: “as a group, [teachers] have by far the highest retirement costs, even compared with other public-sector employees. While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour in retirement compensation.”
Like I said, I don’t have a pension funded by taxpayers. I’m having to saving for my own retirement, as well of the retirement of these wealthy government workers. Public sector benefits are paid by taxpayers in the private (free market) sector. We are the ones wh have to make products and services that consumers are actually willing to pay for in a free market. Unlike teachers, I can’t go on strike if I feel I’m not paid enough. If I go on strike, I’ll be fired. But they go on strike, holding children hostage to get more money. With no guarantee of improved student performance.
Joy also notes that teachers are actually vastly overpaid already, based on what their marketable skills:
[…][R]esearch finds teachers are overpaid by an average of 50 percent relative to their skills and mental abilities. The overage comes almost exclusively from their fat benefit packages.
The reason they complain about pay is because the majority of their pay is going into extravagant health care, paid time off, pension, paid training, etc. benefits. When you add back all those benefits, they’re being overpaid compared to an equivalent private sector worker.
Another factor that lowers student performance is that the fact that teachers are highly regulated. Instead of spending their time teaching students, they are forced to waste time doing other non-teaching tasks.
Education regulations are almost always decided by non-teachers, and the effects are about what you would guess from that fact. Rather than benefiting students, these regulations typically require or justify ever-expanding employment for the very bureaucrat types who come up with them. I’m talking about things like teacher licensing mandates, which researchers have long found do not improve teacher quality and traffic in disproven education fads (but do provide easy-access cash cows for state departments of education and teacher colleges since teachers are required to keep buying their products to maintain certification); ever-increasing testing and data-entry mandates; centralized curriculum mandates like Common Core; centralized teacher evaluation and ratings systems; and the massive data entry required to document things like student behavior problems and special education services.
More money being wasted that doesn’t help students to learn more at all.
So what’s the solution?
The solution is to allow parents to choose who provides their children with an education, instead of having the money automatically taxed and spent by a massive secular left education bureaucracy. If teachers have their money in their hands, they will spend it where they can get the best quality for the best price – just like they do in every other area of their lives. That might be scary for teachers, administrators and indoctrinators, but in a free market, the parents should not be obligated to pay for something they don’t want. We should be concerned about the children first and foremost.
People who push progressive social policies tend to think that they are the tolerant ones. Many people who want to feel compassionate and be seen to be compassionate go along with them. After all, nobody wants the leftists to feel bad, right? In today’s post, we’ll see how leftists can sometimes make those who disagree with them feel really bad.
A Virginia high school teacher was sacked Thursday for allegedly misgendering a student, marking the first time in the state that an educator has lost a job for using biological pronouns to refer to a student.
The West Point School Board voted unanimously 5-0 to fire Peter Vlaming who teaches French at the school, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Vlaming, 47, was charged with discrimination after failing to use male pronouns to address a biologically female student. Vlaming did not intentionally misgender the student, but avoided using any pronouns to address or talk about the student in order to accord with his Christian faith, the Times-Dispatch reported.
“I’m totally happy to use the new name,” Vlaming told local NBC affiliate WWBT. “I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke … but I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith.”
Vlaming has a wife and four children, and he has been fired by the public school administrators right before Christmas.
Honestly, I would not have done any different. People have a right to name themselves, but they don’t have a right to force me to participate in their self-delusion. He used her preferred name, but he would not use her preferred sex. Unfortunately, he’s working in a public school system filled with unionized Democrat teachers and administrators. He didn’t stand a chance. And public schools are taxpayer-funded. Vlaming and other Christians paid for the salaries of the leftists who had him fired. Which is why Christians should never support government-run public schools.
Vlaming’s lawyer called the school’s requirement “unconstitutional compelled speech.”
“Public schools have no business compelling people to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold. This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about forcing someone to endorse an ideology under threat of losing his job,” said attorney Shawn A. Voyles. “My client has always respected this student’s rights and continues to do so; he simply asked that his rights be respected as well. Unfortunately, the school board refused to consider any solutions that would respect the freedoms of everyone involved.”
I’m not a lawyer, but it sounds like he is using the same defense as other Christians have used to win at the Supreme Court.
There’s a Go Fund Me for the family here. According to Rod Dreher, the Go Fund Me has been verified legitimate.
One of my friends has been having a debate with one of his former teachers about whether spending more money on government-run education improves tests scores. He tried posting some evidence, but she just dismissed that by claiming:
If we hadn’t spent more money, then the student test scores would have gone down instead of staying the same.
Most of the money that government spends on education goes to vouchers and private schools, not public schools
Economists at prestigious think tanks like that Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute cannot be trusted to accurately cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics because of the Koch Brothers
You can’t compare the test scores of American students with the test scores of Asian students who outperform them, (for less government spending), because math is different in Asia compared to America
Let’s look at some data and see if her arguments are correct.
Does more spending mean higher student performance?
Comparing educational achievement with per-pupil spending among states also calls into question the value of increasing expenditures. While high-spending Massachusetts had the nation’s highest proficiency scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, low-spending Idaho did very well, too. South Dakota ranks 42nd in per-pupil expenditures but eighth in math performance and ninth in reading. The District of Columbia, meanwhile, with the nation’s highest per-pupil expenditures ($15,511 in 2007), scores dead last in achievement.
The student test scores are dead last, but National Review notes that “according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, D.C. was spending an average of $27,460 per pupil in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available.” They are spending the most per-pupil, but their test scores are dead last.
CBS News reported on another recent study confirming this:
Decades of increased taxpayer spending per student in U.S. public schools has not improved student or school outcomes from that education, and a new study finds that throwing money at the system is simply not tied to academic improvements.
The study from the CATO Institute shows that American student performance has remained poor, and has actually declined in mathematics and verbal skills, despite per-student spending tripling nationwide over the same 40-year period.
“The takeaway from this study is that what we’ve done over the past 40 years hasn’t worked,” Andrew Coulson, director of the Center For Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute, told Watchdog.org. “The average performance change nationwide has declined 3 percent in mathematical and verbal skills. Moreover, there’s been no relationship, effectively, between spending and academic outcomes.”
The study, “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” analyzed how billions of increased taxpayer dollars, combined with the number of school employees nearly doubling since 1970, to produce stagnant or declining academic results.
“The performance of 17-year-olds has been essentially stagnant across all subjects despite a near tripling of the inflation-adjusted cost of putting a child through the K-12 system,” writes Coulson.
Where did the numbers come from? The Koch Brothers? No:
Data from the U.S. Department of Education incorporating public school costs, number of employees, student enrollment and SAT scores was analyzed to explore the disparity between increased spending and decreasing or stagnant academic results.
Well, at least government-run monopoly schools outperform private private schools, right? No:
[…][P]rivate schools, where students excel over public school peers, …manage to operate at budgets about 34 percent lower than taxpayer-funded schools, US Finance Post reports.
Public schools spend, on average, $11,000 per student, per year.
Coulson noted an Arizona study he conducted which showed that the average per-pupil spending at private schools was only about 66 percent of the cost of public schools.
When it comes to math, U.S. high school students are falling further behind their international counterparts, according to results released Tuesday of an ongoing study that compares academic achievement in 73 countries. And the news is not much better in reading and science literacy, where U.S. high schoolers have not gained any ground and continue to trail students in a slew of developed countries around the globe.
In the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measuring math literacy in 2015, U.S. students ranked 40th in the world. The U.S. average math score of 470 represents the second decline in the past two assessments — down from 482 in 2012 and 488 in 2009. The U.S. score in 2015 was 23 points lower than the average of all of the nations taking part in the survey.
More money is being spent, but the scores are DECREASING.
Now, why is it that increased government spending in the public school monopoly doesn’t improve student performance? Well, one reason is that very little of the money makes it to the classroom.
Where does all the money go?
Let’s look at four places where the money spent on the government-run public school monopoly ends up.
First, a lot of it gets paid to administrations who implement politically correct programs designed to turn the impressionable young people into little secular socialists.
This figure shows we now spend nearly $1,100 per student on retirement benefits. The average public school student teacher ratio is 16 to 1. So we are spending about $17,000 per year per teacher in pension contributions.
[…]The National Council on Teacher Quality writes,
In 2014 teacher pension systems had a total of a half trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities—a debt load that climbed more than $100 billion in just the last two years. Across the states, an average of 70 cents of every dollar contributed to state teacher pension systems goes toward paying off the ever-increasing pension debt, not to future teacher benefits (p. iii).
While we are spending a huge amount to fund teacher pensions, most of that spending doesn’t go to attracting the best teachers. It’s paying off past debts.
We can’t hire good teachers, because all the education spending of today is paying for the gold-plated pensions of yesterday.
That was 2014. The numbers are even worse today. Teachers contribute very, very little to their pensions, but the benefits are enormous compared to what the private sector taxpayers get in Social Security. (Which is going to be bankrupt by 2034, as reported by the far-left PBS)
Third, a lot of it is spent on teacher training, because apparently teaching multiplication, Shakespeare or geography changes every year, so the teachers need tens of thousands of dollars in annual training.
A new study of 10,000 teachers found that professional development — the teacher workshops and training that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year — is largely a waste.
The study released Tuesday by TNTP, a nonprofit organization, found no evidence that any particular approach or amount of professional development consistently helps teachers improve in the classroom.
[…]The school districts that participated in the study spent an average of $18,000 per teacher annually on professional development. Based on that figure, TNTP estimates that the 50 largest school districts spend an estimated $8 billion on teacher development annually. That is far larger than previous estimates.
And teachers spend a good deal of time in training, the study found. The 10,000 teachers surveyed were in training an average of 19 school days a year, or almost 10 percent of a typical school year, according to TNTP.
Maybe if more of the money spent on education were spent directly on hiring teachers, then we would see an improvement. Unfortunately, a lot of the money meant for teachers goes to the teacher unions. How do they spend that money?
Finally, this is from OpenSecrets.org, concerning political contributions made in the most recent election cycle:
The two largest teacher unions came in at #9 and #11. Most of their donations go to Democrat Party. Democrats believe (against the evidence) that spending more money in the government-run public school monopoly will improve student performance on tests.
So, what’s the solution?
The solution is that we abolish the federal Department of Education, which has done nothing to improve the quality of education for students. We need to push the education of children back down to the state and local levels. We need to empower parents to choose the schools that work best for their children by giving parents vouchers. We need to increase tax-free education savings accounts to help parents with school expenses. We should also give free college tuition to homeschooled students who are admitted to STEM programs at any college or university. We can take the money from the pensions of the union administrators, after we abolish ever single public sector teacher union in the country, and seize all their assets and pensions. If that’s not enough money, then we can seize all the pensions of Department of Education employees – a just punishment for their failure to produce results while still taking taxpayer money.
Finally, we should allow people who already have private sector experience doing things like STEM to become teachers. Let’s face it: the departments that grant Education degrees have the lowest entrance requirements, and produce the least competent adults. People with years of private sector work experience teach better than people with Education degrees. Let’s open up teaching to people who have experience in the private sector doing software engineering, statistics, nursing, etc. and then we’ll have qualified teachers.
In a previous post, I explained four reasons why education is so expensive, despite the fact that teachers produce underperforming students. But one factor was not mentioned, namely that it is nearly impossible to fire underperforming teachers. The teacher unions prevents teachers from being fired, even for criminal behavior.
A new video from Project Veritas shows a New Jersey teachers union president explaining the methods he would use to cover for a teacher if the teacher physically or verbally abused their student.
Undercover employees for Project Veritas taped Hamilton Township Education Association President David Perry asserting he would misrepresent the events of altercations between teachers and students by back-dating reports as well as urging the teacher to remain silent about what happened.
Perry also stated that if a teacher abused their student, they should go to the union where a report could be created protecting them from students asserting that they had been abused.
Some sample quotes from Perry:
I got people who are on drugs. And she, five times she was fired, and I got her job back five times.
If nobody brings it up from school, I don’t say boo.
Interviewer: So, after a certain point, the cameras are erased. Perry: Exactly. That’s why I would never want to bring it up. The longer we wait, the longer there’s no cameras.
Now, if you go to the house of the board of education and report this, they’re going to call the police, call parents and all that s***. We don’t do that. We don’t do that here. I’m here to defend even the worst people.
But I don’t want him coming in here with a bunch of lies. We need to know the truth so we can bend the truth.
When I see teachers holding signs, demanding more salary and benefits, the first thing I think of is how they want all of these things regardless of performance. Because no matter how poorly they perform, it’s almost impossible to fire them. The union protects them. They’re not asking for more money because they’ve done a good job. They don’t have to do a good job in order to continue to be employed.
Here’s an example of how unions protect poorly-performing teachers from parents (their customers!), reported by the radically leftist CNN:
Former teacher Charlene Schmitz is behind bars in a federal detention center in Tallahassee, Florida, serving 10 years for using texts and instant messages to seduce a 14-year-old student.
She has been fired from her job as a reading teacher at the high school in Leroy, Alabama.
But she is still collecting a paycheck.
Schmitz is appealing her federal conviction — and her firing. State charges filed in connection with the case are pending. Under the law in Alabama, she is still entitled to her $51,000-a-year salary while she appeals her firing.
She’s a “reading teacher”. Sigh.
If you think that’s the exception, you should know that many, many teachers are kept in “rubber rooms”, where they are paid their full teacher salary long after they have been banned from teaching for various crimes and abuses.
Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.
Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.
The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.
“You just basically sit there for eight hours,” said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. “I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.’ `I’ve been sitting here for six months.’ That sort of thing.”
[…]Because the teachers collect their full salaries of $70,000 or more, the city Department of Education estimates the practice costs the taxpayers $65 million a year. The department blames union rules.
“It is extremely difficult to fire a tenured teacher because of the protections afforded to them in their contract,” spokeswoman Ann Forte said.
This is why we need to break up the government monopoly on education, abolish the federal Department of Education, break up the teacher unions, and put vouchers for education in the hands of parents. The only way this corrupt system is going to be fixed is to hand parents the money to choose their schools, and have schools and teachers have public reviews – like what you see on Amazon or Google reviews or Yelp. Teachers should all have to complete two years of full-time work in the private sector for whatever it is that they want to teach – to prove that they are at least capable of keeping a job where they can actually be fired for underperforming. Once parents are empowered to move their children around to get the best education (and to pay more to the best teachers and schools), then good teachers will be paid what they are worth, and bad teachers will be fired, and bad schools will close. This will raise the quality of education for EVERY student.