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Michael Ramirez Essay: Sacrificing Students to Union Demands
From America's Premier Editorial Cartoonist
Michael Ramirez, August 13, 2023
Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
That’s the famous Monopoly game card instruction from the Community Chest, and it’s a sad admonition for too many unlucky kids who are failed by the broken public school system and are cheated out of a productive life.
It is the consequence of the bureaucratic monopoly of our educational systems, designed by politicians and unions who prioritize job security, wages, benefits, and pension plans of the teaching and administrative class over the quality of education children in America receive.
This cruel game continues because there are no choices for concerned parents who cannot homeschool or afford to send their children to private schools. The same liberal politicians who push failing public schools on everyone else happily take advantage of private education for their own children, of course.
I noted many damning statistics on our public education system and its many failures in a previous essay called Making Education Accountable:
During the Covid Pandemic, closing schools devastated our children's education and mental development. Data showed that these school closures contributed to the largest learning drop ever recorded. Reading and writing comprehension, math, and science scores declined in every state. Many children are now reading or performing math well below their grade level.
But poor results in the public school system existed before Covid and have never reflected how much America invests in public education.
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I’ve noted that our nation performs poorly compared to other advanced industrialized nations while spending significantly MORE…
In the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) average scores in math, science and reading, the United States ranked 25th. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science, even while spending 34% higher than the average of the OECD in elementary and secondary education and double the average in post-secondary education.
The Democratic legislature in Nevada recently refused to fund their small Opportunity Scholarship program. The program benefitted the poorest children. This is in a state where math proficiency for middle schoolers is just 22%. 60% of third, fourth, and fifth graders failed English proficiency at their respective grade levels.
Once again, Democrats have demonstrated that they care more about unions than children.
I’m a free-market capitalist. The market is based on necessity, quality, and efficiency, responding to the consumer's needs. The consumer selects the best products for the best price. Those who innovate and produce preferable and more beneficial goods are rewarded with business.
It is a competition of goods and ideas, a meritocracy, to win the patronization of the consumer.
You can apply those fundamentals to education. Jeb Bush began the process in Florida almost two decades ago. Fourth graders in Florida were near the bottom level in reading and math. By incorporating school choice, Florida’s fourth graders advanced to fifth in the nation in reading and seventh in math. Today at 90%, Florida is 7th in the nation for graduation rates.
Expanding on that success, Florida Governor DeSantis recently signed the largest private school voucher expansion in U.S. history. It is just one more reason people are relocating to Florida.
School choice allows parents to choose a school that benefits their children, but that is just part of it. Any public, private, or charter educational environment should be subject to market forces to maintain progress and competition to attract and retain students. This raises the overall quality of education for everyone.
In a competitive environment where the money follows the student, public schools have no choice but to stop sacrificing children, focus on results, and prioritize the fundamental elements of education. They are also forced to utilize their resources more efficiently rather than wasting them on social engineering and fashionable but ineffective teaching techniques. Ultimately, kids will achieve more and realize their potential despite the unions, so they can end up on Boardwalk or Park Place instead of just taking a chance on the Short Line.
A special message from Michael on the tragic loss in Maui:
MOURNING FOR MAUI
My heart breaks for the people in Lahaina. It has been one of my regular stops since as long as I can remember. The land, the people, the natural beauty, the historic towns, the fare, it truly is a paradise.
My deepest condolences and prayers go out to them.
The west side is where I would mostly stay (although, I have stayed everywhere on the island), and every trip always included many stops in the old town, where some of my favorite restaurants and shops are.
The people are lovely. I gave a speech there once on a book tour.
The Lahaina Grill was always one of my must-stops... or grab a Cheeseburger in Paradise overlooking the water, go to Kimo's, the Lahaina FIsh Market, or Star noodles on the way into town, or just sample poki at the Foodland-made fresh every day! And a huge variety... It's like the Costco sampling stations but specializing in dozens of different styles of fresh Poke!
I used to go to Longhi's when it was on Front Street before it moved to the Hyatt and watch the sunset across the street. Then a quick trek down Front Street to burn off all those calories from the great food and view the shops, the galleries, the place with fossils (in Maui?) and old coins, endless tourist traps, because you always need another Maui t-shirt, the ABC stores, take a quick photo with the bird man and then treat yourself to Laperts Ice Cream or some shaved ice from Ululani's and just hang out under the Banyan Tree.
I met Mick Fleetwood at his restaurant once. It's another great place where you could hang out on the rooftop and look out over the street at the magnificent view of blue waters and the island of Lanai in the distance, while listening to music.
There are too many places, too many memories to mention here.
I can't believe it is all gone.... and so many lives...
If you had ever been to Lahaina, you would have seen a place of beauty, and met some wonderful people. The essence of the old whaling town was built into the architecture, and the wood styling that made it so appealing probably contributed to the vulnerability of the buildings.
The 150-year-old Banyan tree was majestic and so beautiful. I hope it will survive.
Lahaina was a central hub of business and tourism on the island. It represented a large portion of revenue for the entire island and county of Maui. That alone will be difficult for the recovery of the area. But the loss of life and homes, and jobs is especially significant.
It is a great tragedy.
May God watch over them, comfort those who have lost loved ones, help those who have lost their homes and businesses and may He welcome those who have lost their lives into his loving embrace.
A part of me will always live in Maui.
A Hui Hou is a phrase used at Hawaiian funerals meaning "Until we meet again." It is used to mourn the loss of loved ones with the hope of seeing them again. It is a sentiment that touches my heart.
I use it as a double entendre in the hope that another paradise will be born in the ashes of this great tragedy to bring back joy and life to the residents and visitors of Maui.
The maile lei is a symbol of respect, peace, friendship, and love. It is considered the most appropriate and revered lei for Hawaiian funerals. When we commemorate the life of a fellow surfer, we float a lei on the ocean, thus the maile lei in the shape of the Island of Maui.
May God bless them all.
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