28 July 2004
It’s been a long hot summer in Arizona. My friend, Craig Cantoni, has taken some time off, traveled a bit and refueled for the fall foolishness. His latest attempt to escape the heat in Phoenix just made things hotter. Get ready. This one pulls no punches.
Public ed plunderers at 7,000 ft.
By Craig J. Cantoni
July 28, 2004
Last week, my wife and I drove 110 miles to Flagstaff, Arizona to escape the summertime furnace of Phoenix and to take our minds off of political issues, especially the meeting of plunderers and economic illiterates known as the Democratic National Convention, which will be followed by a meeting of plunderers and economic illiterates known as the Republican National Convention.
Pulling into the hotel in the pines at 7,000 ft. elevation, our soaring spirits took a nosedive when we saw the marquis, where, emblazoned in large letters, was a welcome to plunderers and economic illiterates.
As luck would have it, the Arizona School Boards Association was holding a conference at the hotel. The parking lot was full of cars from school districts across the state, and the lobby was full of people who looked, spoke and dressed like Soviet apparatchiks on a weekend retreat to a dacha.
There, in all of their bureaucratic glory, were members of the public education establishment. There, in all of their political power, were the people who have a stranglehold on the Democratic and Republican parties, who are responsible for the economic illiteracy of the American public, who have a dangerous monopoly on K-12 classroom thought, and who, when they retire to their bedrooms at night, get in bed with their masters, the teacher unions, and engage in disgusting sadomasochistic rituals with public money.
After adopting a bureaucratic persona and attire, I spied on the meeting and schmoozed with some of the attendees.
Tellingly, the meeting agenda had nothing about academics, cost reduction or school choice. The three main agenda items were: 1) what to do if you are threatened with another district wanting to take over your district; 2) a presentation by Jamie Vollmer; and 3) a luau in the evening.
Who is Jamie Vollmer? He is a retired businessman, a popular speaker at education conferences and a fool.
To his credit, Vollmer admits his past foolishness. He says that he once believed that public education could be run like a business. Apparently not knowing anything about public choice economics, he did not realize that government schools are going to behave like the government and thus be held hostage by politicians, bureaucrats, rent-seeking unions and other special interests.
To his discredit, Vollmer continues to be a fool. After having an epiphany about the true nature of government schools, he has become a big fan of government schools. He is like a smoker dying of lung cancer who, after learning the true nature of smoking, becomes a cheerleader for the tobacco industry, earning a good income by speaking at industry conferences about the glories of tobacco.
Vollmer’s new shtick is to change America in order to improve public education. To quote from an article of his in the March 6, 2002, issue of Education Week: ”For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America.”
Well, it certainly doesn’t mean learning proper grammar, as the above sentence shows.
Borrowing a page from the Bolsheviks, Vollmer arrogantly believes that America should be changed to meet the needs of the government, not vice versa. And how does he propose to do this? Through propaganda, of course.
But Vollmer doesn’t call it propaganda. He calls it ”marketing” and ”getting good information to the community.”
Education associations and teacher unions love his message. For example, The Washington Education Association had this to say about Vollmer’s ideas in a recent newsletter:
”The solution requires getting good information to the community. That doesn’t mean holding a meeting at school, a setting where many may already feel alienated. It doesn’t mean sending home a letter to the small portion of families who have children. It does mean teachers and concerned parents (not administrators) taking their message on the road, to the community’s turf—the Rotary Club, the senior center, the church socials—and on the community’s time.”
The above paragraph is astonishing. The WEA says that meetings should not be held at schools, where ”many may already feel alienated.” So instead of addressing the alienation and giving alienated parents the freedom to escape the government school monopoly, the WEA agrees with Vollmer that ”You must talk to the community about your successes.”
The WEA then lists people who have ”their own narrow agendas.” According to the WEA, they include ”talk show hosts, school board wannabes, disaffected parents, tax fanatics.”
The list does not include the WEA, because it does not have its own narrow agenda. Guffaw, guffaw! But it does include a tax fanatic like me who has the temerity in a free society to question why my wife and I are coerced to pay $190,000 in public education taxes over our adult lives, although we exercise our constitutional right of religious freedom and send our son to parochial school. To the WEA or a Bolshevik, only a ”tax fanatic” would dare to ask such questions about the redistribution of his money.
The WEA also agrees with Vollmer that the ”three Rs” are outdated and should be replaced by the ”three Ts” of ”Thinking, Technology and Teamwork skills.” What the WEA and Vollmer really mean by ”Thinking” and ”Teamwork skills” are ”group-think” and ”conformity,” which are the ”skills” needed to be cogs in the bureaucratic wheels of big government and big business.
I left Flagstaff sick to my stomach—not from altitude sickness but from a sickening realization that bureaucrats, Bolsheviks, propagandists and buffoons have a monopoly on K-12 classroom thought and a stranglehold on American politics.
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Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT). He can be reached at email@example.com
Filed under: Craig-Cantoni