School system shows failure of the Progressive Movement

School system shows failure of the Progressive Movement
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

(Reprinted from May 26, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….-movement.html)

Roughly 100 years ago, the Progressive Movement took over America’s political culture, replacing the ideas of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, who became president in 1901, was a progressive; so was Democratic Princeton University professor Woodrow Wilson, who became governor of New Jersey in 1911 and president in 1913.

Before the Progressive Movement took over, most Americans agreed that government power was dangerous and expensive, and should only be used when absolutely needed to equally secure the unalienable rights of each individual. Americans were almost alone in the world in believing that government should only guarantee liberty, and that liberty would bring prosperity.

But progressive leaders felt such thinking was old-fashioned. They admired the communists and socialists in Europe and “practical” leaders, like Germany’s Bismarck, who applied their ideas. Most “smart,” college-indoctrinated Americans wanted to use the great power of government to improve peoples? lives in unlimited ways ? such as stimulating the economy, bailing out failing farmers, criminalizing the recreational use of drugs and alcohol, separating blacks and whites, and “properly” educating our children in government-run public schools.

Thanks to five generations of progressive control of our government, most Americans today know nothing about traditional principles of American liberty, how they worked in the past, and how they can fix our nation’s problems today. LibertyAndProsperity.org wants to change that.

New Jersey’s public schools are classic examples of the mess that results from ?progressive” government.

Taxpayers spend roughly $18,000 each year on each public school student in the suburbs ? $26,000 in 32 ?poor? cities, among them Bridgeton, Camden and Pleasantville. (This does not include the cost of the buildings.)

So two students living in a typical suburban house cost taxpayers more than $36,000 each year to educate, yet the household only pays $6,000 in property taxes. Other homes or businesses must be taxed more to make up the difference.

To hide that ugly truth, politicians created a complicated scheme of special exemptions, rebates, and other deals that pretend to help certain favored groups. But these special deals are paid for through higher taxes hidden in higher prices for everything we buy.

A classroom with 20 students costs $360,000 per year in the suburbs, $520,000 per year in poor cities. We pay the average classroom teacher $112,000 each year in salary, payroll expenses, health benefits, and pension costs. Building rent is not included. Where does the rest of the money go?

Every teacher is forced by state law to either join three labor unions ? the national NEA, the state NJEA, and the local, or pay 85 percent of roughly $1,200 per year in dues; and almost nobody takes on the unions to save $180 per year.

The NJEA alone spends $131 million per year to buy or bully state and local politicians.

With hundreds of qualified applicants for every opening, less-qualified teachers are often hired for personal or political reasons. In addition, teachers have tenure after three years on the job and can?t be replaced if someone comes along who can do the job better.

Most teachers get automatic step increases in addition to cost of living hikes almost every year. Pensions are based on the highest salary at the end and not linked to contributions. Teachers are rewarded for staying on the job even if they lose their passion for teaching.

The results? Only 46 percent of Pleasantville High School juniors passed a basic reading skills test; only 29 percent were “proficient” in math. The worst students dropped out before they took the test.

Suburban districts like Ocean City/Upper Township did much better with 91 percent and 87 percent. Mainland High School for suburban Northfield, Linwood, and Somers Point tested at 87 percent and 75 percent. But even students from our best high schools get clobbered when their proficiency is compared with students in most other countries.

Our colleges waste millions teaching incoming freshmen the basic reading and math skills they should have learned in the eighth grade. Taxpayers spend a fortune on physical education teachers, expensive facilities, and an array of sports programs, yet 30 percent of our students are obese when they finish high school.

In short, there is a big problem with “public” education today.

For the past 65 years the ?progressive experts? said they could fix our schools with higher taxes, more debt, more spending, better salaries, pensions, and benefits, new buildings, smaller classes, etc. None of this has worked.

What can work is what these progressive ?experts? refuse to try or tolerate ? traditional American liberty.

To be continued.

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8-9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email grossman@snip.net or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.

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