The Non-Family Enterprise

Member Group : From the Kitchen Table

"How do we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation which is how our kids are educated?" Hillary Clinton, April 16, 2015, in Iowa, as recorded on C-Span.

In a way, Mrs. Clinton is correct. Today, the government does, in fact, believe that education is a non-family enterprise. Parents are to supply raw material to the schools, and then cooperate with the schools in ensuring that the raw material they supply will be properly molded into the desired final product.

A recent incident in Tewksbury, Massachusetts reveals this attitude quite clearly. The school district was looking at the cost of sending special needs students out-of-district for services. The data collected by the district on those students was mistakenly put online. The local paper, and eventually Fox News, reported on the fact that the students were identifiable, even without their names. But of even greater concern was the fact that the district had been rating the parents on "how cooperative" they were with the school, on a 1 through 3 scale.

So, instead of parents evaluating the school, the school was evaluating the parents on their level of cooperativeness and including that rating in the child’s electronic portfolio.

It wasn’t always this way.

Originally, America’s schools were community based. Parents came together to organize a school for their children and select appropriate teacher(s). Local control was not a slogan – it was a reality. And education was definitely considered a family enterprise.

Bu the past 50 years have changed that. Projected federal funds…

for State Formula-Allocated and Selected Student Aid Programs, not including federally subsidized student loans, in the 2016 budget are ,857,599,103. This also does not include grants that the states compete for, or special appropriations to fund a particular piece of federal education legislation.

So the federal government has used the power of the purse string to ensure that education in America is indeed a government, and not a family, enterprise.

The results?

The Huffington Post reports that, "According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read."

Renaissance Learningrecently released a report, What Kids Are Reading and Why it Matters, that indicates that students are leaving high school clocking in at just a seventh grade reading level on average.

A June 2010 report by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education and The Southern Regional Education Board entitled Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving College Readiness Through Coherent State Policy states "Every year in the United States, nearly 60% of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies."

Doesn’t sound like this "non-family enterprise" approach to education is working very well.

What about when education IS a family enterprise?

Many parents, tired of being ignored by an education establishment that does not see them as more than "raw material suppliers" have chosen to teach their children at home.

An August 30, 2009 article in the Washington Times spoke about the results of a 50-state study of home-school academics called "Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics."

In the core studies (reading, language and math), the average home-schooler scored at the 88th percentile. The average public school student scored at the 50th percentile.

Household income had little impact on the results of home-school students: Children of parents with an income between ,000 and ,000 scored at the 86th percentile, whereas children of parents with an income over ,000 scored at the 89th percentile.

An August 2012 article called Learn Things Web reports that homeschooled students score about 72 points higher than the national average on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

It would appear, then, that if we want education to actually result in students who are educated, we should be telling our elected federal officials that families are necessary but Washington isn’t. With all due respect to Mrs. Clinton, effective education cannot be "non-family", but it should be "non-bureaucrat".