Tag: schools

Legalizing the Use of Child Labor

By TJ Roberts | United States

On May 8th, 2018, the Trump Administration announced their desire to repeal multiple child labor laws. While this is a cause for celebration, he should take it a step further. Trump should aim for the repeal of ALL child labor laws. Government overreach shows itself when it forbids a child from engaging in voluntary trade, or specifically telling them how they can work, for whom they can work, and for how long they can work.

While the masses hold child labor laws as sacred, one of our oldest and most valuable laws, child labor laws are comparatively new. The federal ban on child labor emerged from the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (the same act that brought about the disastrous minimum wage), a Depression-era regulation that artificially lowered the unemployment rate, by banning certain classes from working! In a time when people needed work the most, the government made it harder to work and prolonged the depression.

This legislation, however, had little impact in the long haul. By 1930, only 6.4% of minor children between the age of 10-15 actually had jobs, so the 1938 law did nothing more than give the government more control of your life. As a nation, America has been wealthy enough to not need child labor by a considerable margin for years. Otherwise, this law is not only useless, but inherently immoral.

And what of nations/localities that are so poor that they need child labor? Child labor laws won’t stop people from sending their children to work if they absolutely need the money to survive. Child labor laws just make it worse for people as children resort to black market activities (such as prostitution or gang activity). Child labor laws make people more desperate to survive, disproportionately hurting poor communities the most.

In addition, suppose you are a parent. Would you send your 8 year-old child to a sweatshop for an additional $200 per month? I most certainly wouldn’t. I most certainly hope you wouldn’t. There are opportunities that are much better for children, especially as they become more tech-savvy. If a parent would do that, that is a cultural issue, not a political issue.

Child Labor is consensual. A willing child worker applied for a job, and a willing employer hired the child. With this in mind, both parties must believe that this exchange is mutually beneficial. To tell a minor child that they cannot work is to claim that you have the right to violate the property rights of both employer and worker.

This is just another example of the need for freedom of choice. Child labor laws restrict the ability of you to choose what you do with your time. In fact, the government forces children to partake in labor for them through government schools. Horace Mann, the father of the American education system, made it very clear that government schools are not to make good people, but obedient citizens. It is a form of indoctrination that the State compels upon children. It is forced labor, although not “hard” labor.

America is seeing the results of this now. Employers overwhelmingly claim that college grads are unprepared for the workplace, and its no surprise. Government schools force you to consume much of your time focusing on obedience and not innovation. Where critical thinking and soft skills are essential to the workplace, government “education” miserably fails to prepare an individual for a career.

Government-mandated labor, however, has even more dire consequences: the loss of entrepreneurship. Since children have no legal ability to join the labor force, they are encouraged to follow orders, not think for themselves. Kids have been at the forefront of innovation historically, but that has been changing as young people have been forcefully adopted by the State, ripped away from their families that actually want what is best for them. Experience in the workplace is good for people. Child labor laws, however, are disastrous. They are a breach of fundamental liberties.


This post was originally published in LIFE.

Get awesome merchandise. Help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy. Donate today to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

From The Information Age To The Era Of Intellectual Laziness

Craig Axford | Canada

In a 2013 column published in the Huffington Post entitled Why Public Schools Don’t Teach Critical Thinking, retired high-school teacher Frank Breslin lamented the state of modern American education:

The minds of children need room to breathe, to be inspired by vision, and the health-bringing balm of many perspectives. They need exercise, play, and relaxation; in short, they need a sound body and spirit to have a sound mind. Rather than spending their magical years entombed in cram-school dungeons that prepare them for impossibly difficult tests, children need old-fashioned schools where every day they can learn something new in classrooms that echo with laughter and joy!

Unfortunately, it’s government policy to make sure schools are anything but the kind of places Breslin envisioned for students. By emphasizing standardized testing that evaluates how many predetermined facts a student can memorize rather than their capacity to conduct research and pursue their own lines of inquiry, America has created a citizenry increasingly predisposed to simply accept whatever they read uncritically. Now it is paying dearly for following that path.

At a time when we often bemoan the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together on much of anything, it’s worth remembering that the pursuit of standardized testing has been a thoroughly bipartisan undertaking; President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation passed in 2001 with strong bipartisan support. In the speech he delivered before the student’s of Ohio’s Hamilton High School prior to signing the NCLB legislation, President Bush spoke of the importance of “accountability” and made it clear that a strong emphasis on testing was key to determining whether or not schools were meeting expectations:

The first way to solve a problem is to diagnose it. And so, what this bill says, it says every child can learn. And we want to know early, before it’s too late, whether or not a child has a problem in learning. I understand taking tests aren’t fun. Too bad. We need to know in America. We need to know whether or not children have got the basic education.

When President Obama took office, he initially doubled down on standardized testing. He too was, at least at first, clearly convinced that what was needed was a more objective measurement of a student’s knowledge. Though President Obama’s “Race To The Top” initiative did call upon states to “develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity,” it still placed an extremely strong emphasis upon standardization to ensure these goals were being achieved.

However, by 2015, President Obama was doing a mea culpa on standardized testing. He announced the amount of time spent in the classroom preparing for tests should be limited. In one of the more reflective moments of his presidency, Obama stated, “When I look back on the great teachers who shaped my life, what I remember isn’t the way they prepared me to take a standardized test.” He went on to admit that “too much testing, and from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning,” had caused more harm than good.

. . .

We live in a culture that places a high value on efficiency. Understandably, we want the next generation to have a firm grasp on certain basic skills that are essential to any real chance of success in the modern world. Reading, writing, and arithmetic — commonly referred to as “the 3 Rs” — are at the top of the list.

Unfortunately, the mastery of these skills doesn’t guarantee that a student has also learned how to put them to good use. While the United States has achieved a reasonably high literacy rate, increasingly people are using their ability to read and write to kill hours each day on social media rather than becoming informed citizens or otherwise enriching their lives.

According to a study just released by the American Psychological Association, the use of digital media by teens increased dramatically between 2006 and 2016. Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the lead author of the study, states that social media use during leisure hours doubled among high school seniors during that period. Among 10th graders usage increased by 75% while among 8th graders it increased by 68%.

“In the mid-2010s, the average American 12th-grader reported spending approximately two hours a day texting, just over two hours a day on the internet — which included gaming — and just under two hours a day on social media,” Twenge is quoted saying on the science website Science Daily. “That’s a total of about six hours per day on just three digital media activities during their leisure time.”

According to the same Science Daily story, the steep rise in digital media usage has been associated with an even more extreme drop in the use of print media. The article states:

The decline in reading print media was especially steep. In the early 1990s, 33 percent of 10th-graders said they read a newspaper almost every day. By 2016, that number was only 2 percent. In the late 1970s, 60 percent of 12th-graders said they read a book or magazine almost every day; by 2016, only 16 percent did. Twelfth-graders also reported reading two fewer books each year in 2016 compared with 1976, and approximately one-third did not read a book (including e-books) for pleasure in the year prior to the 2016 survey, nearly triple the number reported in the 1970s.

Perhaps these trends wouldn’t be nearly as disconcerting if the rise in digital media use and the associated decline in the use of printed material wasn’t also coming at a time when so many members of the same generation were exhibiting such difficulty discerning between reliable news stories and “fake” news.

In a study coincidentally released just two weeks after the 2016 presidential election, Stanford University researchers reported students at all levels exhibited extremely poor skills when it came to conducting research and evaluating content online. According to the study’s executive summary, “Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.”

The Stanford study involved 7,804 subjects from middle school through university age. The sample comprised students from 12 states, including students from elite universities that rejected over 90% of their applicants and public institutions with high acceptance rates. Students were given age-appropriate problems to evaluate and research online including reasons to doubt the accuracy of content, assessing evidence, and verification of various claims. The results were not encouraging.

The Stanford team’s assessment of middle schoolers found that “More than 80% of students believed that the native advertisement, identified by the words ‘sponsored content,’ was a real news story.” Among high school students shown a post entitled “Fukushima Nuclear Flowers” with a picture of what appear to be white daisies exhibiting what were alleged to be various “birth defects,” the students “ignored key details, such as the source of the photo. Less than 20% of students constructed ‘mastery’ responses, or responses that questioned the source of the post or the source of the photo. On the other hand, nearly 40% of students argued that the post provided strong evidence because it presented pictorial evidence about conditions near the power plant.” The caption gave no indication where the photo was actually taken.

University undergrads from three different universities were shown a tweet announcing “new polling” on NRA members’ views on background checks for potential gun purchasers. According to the Stanford study, “Results indicated that students struggled to evaluate tweets. Only a few students noted that the tweet was based on a poll conducted by a professional polling firm and explained why this would make the tweet a stronger source of information.” Only a third of the students paid any attention to the agendas of MoveOn.org or the Center for American Progress and how that might influence the content.

When it came to undergraduate students, researchers also noted “An interesting trend that emerged” from their tests. Over 50% of “students failed to click on the link provided within the tweet.” In addition, “Some of these students did not click on any links and simply scrolled up and down within the tweet.” Others tried to investigate, but searched using the CAP acronym for the Center for American Progress provided in the tweet. This type of search “did not produce useful information.”

. . .

The use of fake news to influence the election of 2016, reveals it isn’t just our young adults that lack the skills to detect and resist misinformation. Many of their parents and grandparents also lack the critical thinking and research skills necessary to place information in context and separate the wheat from the chaff. In many respects, the most troubling aspect of this problem isn’t our apparent gullibility but our ongoing refusal to do much if anything about it.

The focus on standardized testing is a symptom of an education system literally designed to teach students what to think rather than how to think. Memorization, not research skills and hands-on learning, became even more of a focus as successive governments drank the testing Kool-Aid. Time-consuming experiments or other projects were dropped to make room for lessons that drilled the right answers into students. Arts programs that fostered creativity and instilled an appreciation for culture were cut or eliminated altogether in the name of efficiency. Our schools became factories that mimicked the routinized schedules of the workplace while denying students the chance to ask questions, challenge the ideas being presented to them, and figure things out for themselves.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A recent episode of the BBC World Service podcast The Documentary highlighted work being done to determine the best approaches for instilling in children a basic grasp of what qualifies as evidence and the importance of understanding the basis of the claims they will inevitably hear from salesmen, politicians, and even family members over the course of their lives. The program, entitled You Can Handle The Truth, doesn’t just reveal how successful such efforts can be but how much delight children actually take in learning how to unmask poorly supported assertions and outright falsehoods.

The program’s host, the British statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter, traveled to Uganda to see the results of these efforts for himself. Researchers and educators in that country had been working with a Norwegian team on educational materials designed to teach elementary age students how to make more informed health choices.

The young Ugandan students were given a comic book that depicted individuals confronting a number of difficult choices. Among the most popular comic book characters is a parrot that, as parrots are known to do, repeats back everything it hears unquestioningly. Over the course of the school year, students discussed the various scenarios described within the book with their teachers and learned the importance of asking those making a claim what the basis for it was and how to better evaluate the answers they heard in response.

The Ugandan program involved 10,000 students from 120 schools. Sixty of the schools were placed in a control group. Students at these institutions received no additional instruction. In the remaining 60 schools, students participated in lessons and activities designed to provide them with basic critical thinking skills. At the end of the year, students from all 120 schools were tested and the differences between the control group and the test group assessed.

The results of that testing revealed the program had produced the desired effect and in a big way. All students were given 24 problems to solve or evaluate. Thirteen right answers were considered a passing grade. The 24 questions presented to students on the test were unique and had not been problems considered as part of the critical thinking curriculum.

In the control group, 27% of the students passed the test. In the intervention group, 69% received a passing score. Even teachers in the two groups were tested. Among the control group’s teachers, 87% passed, while the intervention group saw 98% of the teachers get a passing grade.

One of the problems the researchers anticipated but never encountered is one that will likely sound familiar to Americans; parents becoming upset as their children begin coming home from school with tough questions about cherished beliefs and cultural practices. Uganda is a country with a rich history of folk remedies and superstition. Researchers feared that having children go off to school in the morning happily accepting particular family or cultural traditions only to return in the evening wondering about the basis for the claims surrounding grandma’s famous herbal remedy could turn parents against their efforts.

However, Ugandan parents, at least so far, haven’t made a fuss. Their children are excited to be learning and take delight in being empowered to question their elders about things that have been taken for granted for generations. To everyone’s surprise, parents and other family members don’t seem to mind.

Sir David Spiegelhalter also took a trip to California for his BBC program. That state is currently considering legislation that will mandate media literacy education.  Spiegelhalter paid a visit to one California classroom where students were asked to research various theories into who or what sank the Battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor on February 15, 1898. The sinking of the Maine ultimately led the United States into a war with Spain.

American parents aren’t likely to get too upset if their children conclude an American battleship that sank over 100 years ago went down due to an accident instead of a Spanish mine as was widely assumed at the time, but it’s hard to imagine many of them remaining silent when it comes to climate change, evolution, vaccines, or race relations. They haven’t so far. In just the past year Mark Twain and Harper Lee were targeted by the school board in Duluth, Minnesota because their books contained language that might make students feel “humiliated or marginalized.”

One of the appeals of the reading, writing, and arithmetic mantra is that learning these skills, at least in theory, doesn’t require teachers to raise too many questions or address contemporary controversies. Once a kid has the capacity to read, it’s just assumed they will figure it all out for themselves as an adult when and if they choose to. But learning to read is about more than just memorizing the alphabet and passing a spelling test. It’s about knowing how to think too.

The California media literacy bill failed on its first attempt in 2017, but it’s back again this year. If it passes, implementation will certainly be carefully watched to see what kind of impact it has on students being thrown into the sea of digital technologies we’ve created. Will they sink or swim? One thing is certain, however; it increasingly appears as though everything is riding upon their capacity to keep their heads above water.

In the August 27 issue of the New York Times, the author Thomas Chatterton Williams reviews two new books hitting the shelves: The Splintering of the American Mind and The Coddling of the American Mind. As the titles suggest, their authors rue the polarization, hypersensitivity, and inability to cope with controversies that now grips Americans right across the political spectrum.

But what got my attention wasn’t Williams assessment of these newly published works so much as the closing paragraph of his review. It was clearly more about us than it was either of the books he had just shared his thoughts on. Williams concludes:

What both of these books make clear from a variety of angles is that if we are going to beat back the regressive populism, mendacity and hyperpolarization in which we are currently mired, we are going to need an educated citizenry fluent in a wise and universal liberalism. This liberalism will neither play down nor fetishize identity grievances, but look instead for a common and generous language to build on who we are more broadly, and to conceive more boldly what we might be able to accomplish in concert. Yet as the tenuousness of even our most noble and seemingly durable civil rights gains grows more apparent by the news cycle, we must also reckon with the possibility that a full healing may forever lie on the horizon. And so we will need citizens who are able to find ways to move on despite this, without letting their discomfort traumatize or consume them. If the American university is not the space to cultivate this strong and supple liberalism, then we are in deep and lasting trouble.”

The anti-democratic forces that are currently so vocal in the United States would no doubt frame the kind of educational goals Williams identifies as some sort of conspiracy to destroy their movement and they would be right. They will claim that any attempt to instill in children critical thinking skills and an understanding of the nation’s history, laws, and aspirations are biased because these efforts fail to treat their own anti-intellectual, unscientific, and undemocratic points of view as worthy of equal of time. Again, they will be correct.

Freedom of speech means everyone gets to express themselves. However, it does not mean that every idea deserves equal press coverage or even any press coverage at all. Thinking is hard work precisely because it requires us to critically evaluate the concepts we’re exposed to. It determines not only what is and isn’t worthy of our time and attention but which ideas have the potential to either threaten or enrich our lives and those of our fellow citizens. There are sound methods for making these determinations that have proven themselves over and over again, but they can’t do us any good if we refuse to learn them.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source

A Pledge of Allegiance is a Communist Dream

Glenn Verasco | Thailand

The first semester of the Thai school year is a few weeks from completion. Unlike the US, the Thai school calendar is divided into two college-like semesters. The first begins in mid-May and runs through September. After an October recess, the second term starts around November 1st, and the school year culminates in early March.

This has been one of my least favorite aspects of my seven years teaching English in Thailand. As it takes place in the middle of the first semester, I have not had the pleasure of coming home for an American summer since residing abroad. The same goes for Thanksgiving and all but one Christmas. This is beginning to weigh on me, and plans for my wife and I to transition home for good are in the works.

Another aspect of teaching in Thailand that I dislike (though I mostly love what I do) is my students’ morning ritual. When the 2nd or 3rd attendance bell rings (depending on the school), the entire student body stands in rows (either in the halls or an assembly area), sings the national anthem, chants a few Buddhist prayers, and sings or repeats a jingle or hymn unique to each school.

Each step of this routine is undertaken mindlessly and unwillingly by the average student. Social pressures and faculty commands guarantee that they stand in line without protest, and the Buddhist prayers are spoken in Sanskrit that few people, let alone children, even understand. And ever since the Royal Thai Army’s 2014 coup d’etat, I’ve noticed an even greater dip in enthusiasm.

As the US school year is set to be underway, I am reminded of my own mindless chanting as an American schoolboy. Every morning, I put my hand over my heart and pledged allegiance without ever thinking about what pledging or allegiance even mean. I was not persuaded to stand through reason or understanding, but instead through the same social pressures and faculty commands that my students in Thailand are subject to. I do not recall any instances of a fellow student declining to stand, but I know I would have hated that student for doing so. I embodied the social pressure I was subjected to.

Now 12 years removed from high school and 7 years removed from university, I have had ample time to begin my education. And as a now somewhat-educated critical thinker, I can look back at the words I was all but forced to say throughout my youth and see them for what they truly are: BS.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America

A free country like the United States should be above archaic symbols like flags, monuments, and other images of state worship, so pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth (especially one whose design has been altered several times throughout US history) is a backwards idea from the start.

Admittedly, I often get teary eyed when I see the stars and stripes waving in the wind as our national anthem plays before a baseball game. But I want that feeling for myself, not as a part of an obligatory chant among an unthinking cult.

If anything, we should pledge allegiance to the Constitution or, better yet, to the individual human rights and constraints on government it espouses. And we should do it when we feel like it, not force the youth do it in a supposedly educational setting.

And to the republic for which it stands

As the Constitution lays out a framework for a republic (and certainly not a democracy), I am least butthurt over this line.

Pledging allegiance to the republic itself, however, contradicts the character of a free country. If our so-called republic veers off course by, say, plunging its people $21 trillion in debt, establishing a destructive interventionist empire abroad, founding an alphabet soup of unauthorized federal agencies, and imprisoning 2 million of its own people often for victimless crimes, should we continue to commit ourselves to its agenda?

Again, pledging allegiance to our Constitution or our rights would be a more unconditionally honorable promise. The state should commit itself to us, not the other way around.

One nation

The United States of America is not meant to be one nation as much as it is meant to be 50 states. The United States in singular form represents what was intended to be a small legislative body that manages the few, constitutionally-enumerated responsibilities the 50 states are unfit to manage independently.

In plural form, the United States are Alabama, Wyoming, and everything in between. The states are supposed to have tremendous authority as they are far more aware of what is best for their inhabitants than a faraway field of castles in Washington DC. Instead of recognizing one nation, we should recognize the 50 sovereign states.

Under God

God is a subjectively manifested concept that each of us has the liberty to deal with in our own way. I was once an Atheist who scoffed at religion, and I had that right. I am now far more open-minded to the existence of God and have gained some respect for religious discipline and spirituality. But that’s up to me.

Instead of under God, we should exclaim that our nation is subservient to each of our natural, individual human rights: one nation, under us.

Indivisible

This is just plain wrong. Although the process is not easy, states are free to leave the union if they so choose. We should remind ourselves that unification is a choice (which, if you ask me, continues to be a wise decision despite the gross encroachments made by the feds), not that secession is impossible.

Instead of pledging allegiance to enslavement of the states by an out of control federal government, we should pledge allegiance to our free will to remain in the union or leave in accordance with what suits our preferences.

With Liberty and Justice for all

I certainly love the sentiment here, but it is simply not true. Compared to other nations in modern times and throughout history, the liberty and justice that exists in America is arguably on the more preferable end of the spectrum. But this is only in a relative sense and often a result of technological advancements, not good government.

Wholesale liberty and justice do not exist in America, and we should stop saying that they do. The more you say an unaccomplished goal is accomplished, the more you believe it is accomplished, and less energy you put into accomplishing it. A better alternative would be to say that we intend to establish liberty and justice for all or that liberty and justice are a work in progress.

Though it certainly fails to flow off the tongue, here is my revised Pledge of Allegiance for the 2018-2019 American school year:

I pledge allegiance,

To the Constitution,

Of the United States of America,

And to the inalienable rights of myself and my fellow man,

For which it stands,

50 Sovereign States,

Under their people,

Striving for Liberty and Justice for all.

Feel free to comment with a catchier version, and have a great school year!

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source

Being the Change – Paul Wolfe for School Board

By John Keller | Florida

Paul Wolfe is running for school board in Alachua County in Florida. 71 Republic’s own John Keller sat down with him to discuss his campaign and the policies he is running on.

Keller: You are entering a career in politics. What inspired you to run for office?

Wolfe: In this race, my inspiration to run for office came from the Parkland tragedy and subsequent rhetoric being used to push an anti-gun message. I felt that, as opposed to tackling a problem that will never truly be solved on the firearm end, I wanted to help secure our schools against these threats here in Alachua County. My campaign couldn’t be stuck on that single message, so I have chosen to diversify a great deal with school safety still being at the forefront, but many other issues being included and addressed.

Keller: With so much attention drawn to Congress and national politics, what inspired you to run locally?

Wolfe: The saying goes, “All politics are local”. If I choose to run for something larger after my work at the local school board has concluded with positive results, then so be it, but I wanted to start locally to prove myself and that my policies have the ability to work. Also, age restrictions would have prevented me from pursuing any state or national office, so I was forced to take that into consideration as well. When I first started to look for a place to take my ideas, I thought that making the big step to the Florida Legislature would have been bold enough. But, after some thought, I felt it best to go with something that I knew very well, having just been a recent high school graduate: The School Board.

Keller: What three positions define your campaign for school board?

Wolfe: For school board, my first main campaign point is school security, a top priority. Without school security, the learning environment is unsafe and students may be afraid to even come to school. As such, increased partnerships with local police forces and hardening our schools against threats are included in this topic.

My next point is our school facilities. They are crumbling, with many foundations being cracked and flooding being prominent in schools after even heavy rain (the rain being a common occurrence in Florida). In order to address this issue, I have chosen to support our local half-Cent Sales Tax initiative with funding going directly to our school facilities to help fund projects. I have also long advocated for a re-visitation of the school budget to find where inefficiency wreaks havoc on the revenue we already have, and allocate those monies more effectively.

The third point I have chosen to run on is teacher compensation. Our teachers are paid at the bottom of the list on average compared to the rest of Florida, and many counties with a much smaller tax base somehow find themselves being able to afford higher salaries than us. We should revisit our budget, as I mentioned, and find a way to allocate for at least 3% salary increases over each of the next four years, a total of 12%, to get us back on track with the rest of the state.

Keller: What change do you want to see?

Wolfe: Change is something that our school board seems afraid of. Change in leadership, change in policy, change in testing, change in relationships with the state of Florida. We need a younger person, who has seen the problems with public schools, who has experienced them less than two months ago, in order to make these changes happen for the better.

Keller: How can people get involved in your campaign or learn more if interested?

Wolfe: If readers would like to know more, my website is www.paulwolfe4ac.com, my campaign email is [email protected], and my phone number, which can be reached any time between 8am and 8pm, is 352-231-2485.

Keller: Do you have any final remarks to make?

Wolfe: My final remarks would be this: If you wish to see a change in the world, be that change. If you want to see your local municipal government take a direction, run for that office. If you want to see something in your state Constitution change, advocate actively for it. If you want to see our Congress turn from the destructive path it is on, run for that office. By simply talking about change, we do nothing. But running for office, taking charge in local communities of efforts, and being so loud you cannot be ignored can all be ways by which we affect change in our communities. I would like to thank 71Republic and John Keller for giving me this platform on which to communicate these ideas and look forward to answering any questions readers may have on these issues.

I would like to thank Paul Wolfe for talking with 71Republic and encourage you all to visit his website for more information and click here to see a forum Paul Wolfe participated in.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source

Government Education Spending Hurts More Than It Helps

By Isaiah Minter | United States

Public school teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona have spent the last month striking for higher wages and better health care. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have much of an issue with this if the students weren’t caught in the crossfire. But they are. While the students are deprived of vital schooling days, they are certainly not deprived of attention: to teachers and progressive politicians alike, the students are political ammunition designed to sway Republican politicians.

I loathe this routine of exploiting groups to achieve desired political outcomes, for it absolutely does more harm than good. However well-intentioned political actions may be, they often harm groups otherwise not involved with the issue at hand.

Nevertheless, whatever one’s opinion on the teacher strikes, it must be made clear that we do not need to deprive our children of schooling to achieve the desired goal. Teachers, like the children they educate, are both victims of the same disease: the bureaucracy of American education. Thus, to deliver a ‘living wage’ to teachers as progressives so often call it, we must do away with the band-aid approach of increased education spending and instead target the institution.

Indeed, most of the dollars in school spending hikes seldom ever reach the classroom. Dating back to 1950, public school administrative positions increased at seven times the rate of the student population and double that of teachers. This trend may explain why, despite an immense increase in public school spending over the last five decades, American education pails in comparison to the developed world.

Similarly, teacher wages fell roughly 2 percent over the same span that per-student spending rose by nearly 30 percent. Perhaps the starkest figure lies in the wide disparity between taxpayer spending on teachers and teacher salaries: Oklahoma taxpayers spend over $120,000 per teacher, and yet the average Oklahoma teacher salary is around $45,000 based on 2016 numbers.

The evidence suggests that the issue is not a lack of resources, but a lack of proper resource allocation. In flooding the system with administrators and non-education positions, we have allowed the ruthless imposition of regulations that siphon money into the bureaucracy and away from the schools that need it. For all the talk on greed in the private sector, people seldom ever concern themselves with it when it surfaces in the public sector.

Teachers’ unions and bureaucracy have American education in a chokehold, and if we are serious about supporting our teachers while delivering a quality education to our children, we need to remove the federal government from the issue altogether. There is no Constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in education, and our abandonment of the 10th Amendment on this issue has plagued our schooling system for the last five decades. As a clear example:

The American Action Forum (AAF) found that the Department of Education currently imposes 85 million hours of paperwork, and more than 465 federal education forms, including 120 in postsecondary education, at a cost of more than $2.7 billion annually.

By removing the federal government from the issue, we would decentralize and deregulate the education system. This approach of turning education over to the states and promoting school choice through voucher systems would, in turn, promote parental responsibility in the schooling of their child.

The outlined approach contrasts heavily with our current system where we have, in effect, replaced the parent with the state employee and the local community with the federal government. Hardly then should it come as a surprise that education has deteriorated to the extent it has. Washington does not pay any price for being wrong.

It is not the Washington politician who suffers when school administrators saturate their pockets from school spending hikes, nor when teachers go on strike as a result. Instead, our students and teachers pay the price.

It always amazes me how government can be responsible for the disastrous results of a system – education in this case – but we nonetheless demand that this same institution fix the very issue it is responsible for. As this approach seldom proves effective, it is time for an approach of less government power and more market freedom.


For a more elaborate examination of the American education system, I strongly recommend Inside American Education by Thoms Sowell.


Featured image source.