The Devil of Public Education: The Mask of School Pride

I was on the air with Doc Thompson of 700 WLW to discuss the meeting at the Lakota School Board from August 8, 2011 where a 4.75 mill levy was placed on the November ballot. Click below to listen to that electrifying broadcast where I reveal that many people within the school district consider me the “Devil of Public Education.” So I returned from the confines of my hellish existence to have a lively discussion about the state of public education in Ohio with Doc.

(There is about 2:40 of this recording that overlaps toward the end. It’s not your computer; it’s a defect of the original recording. Just stay with it, because it will pass.)

There has been a lot of tension at Lakota over the last couple of levy battles, and now that Lakota is attempting to pass yet another levy, that tension is returning. I spoke to quite a few people from the education side of the school district after this particular meeting and tension was the general atmosphere. The fights of the past have been contentious to say the least. That was when it was revealed to me that many of the employees in the district consider me the incantation of the devil himself because I hate public education!

Well, I’ve heard that kind of thing before. The most obvious circumstance under which I’ve heard that kind of rhetoric is at football games where the Cleveland Browns come to play at the Bengals stadium or worse yet, the Pittsburg Steelers. For me the emotion is even greater when my favorite team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plays New Orleans or the Atlanta Falcons. In fact when I heard that Troy Evans the linebacker for the Saints was providing busing to residents of Lakota, which is an idea that I think is great, my first thought was “darn” why did it have to be a guy who played for the Saints!!!!!! I HATE THE SAINTS!!

But why do I hate the Saints or the Bengals hate the Browns or Steelers? Because emotion is what sports is all about. The drama of a sporting event is all about picking a side and rooting for your team to win.

Schools do this also. The game between Lakota East and Lakota West is always a big game. It used to be that a game against Princeton, or Colerain was always a big game. There’s always been a lot of rivalry in these games. Fights occur between players in movie theater parking lots and parents will fight with other parents from other districts in the stands. It’s an innate response to the human desire for competition.

So it is only natural that a school district will use “School Pride” to unify the students and parents to the goals of the school, and will use that same pride to pass a school levy and make those out who are against the increased spending of taxes as “The Devil.” Such relative generalizations are indicators of a frail psyche. I indulge in them for competitive events like football games, or any other type of conflict, but in the grand scheme of things, I keep focused on the “big picture,” where my counterparts cannot.

The organized labor element of public education has a cleaver little scheme going, of which they are entirely aware of, they use this “School Pride” issue to drive up the wage levels of their personal incomes, because while human beings participating in that school as employees, students and parents are functioning under the spell of “School Pride” no amount of money is too much so long as their school system WINS. Rational discussion that might otherwise occur in any other business environment are ignored in favor of the passion for the fight!

This is how school levies have migrated out of control. Organized labor has used “School Pride” to pass tax increases which has translated to exceptionally high incomes for the members of those unions. Administrators strapped by legislative rules negotiated by organized labor cannot manage the costs of the organized labor, so they resort to “School Pride” to sell the public and cover up their weakness of administrative influence.

This is the state of all schools, and “School Pride” to the people outside the functioning mechanisms of the school doesn’t work so well, and now that wage levels have reached a “diminishing marginal return” on the tax payer investment, people are turning down school levies, because they see no end in sight from schools asking for more money. That is why 85% of all school levies across the State of Ohio failed in the August elections of 2011, because “School Pride” as a spell doesn’t work when the pockets of the people supporting school are empty.

With the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Brown has obviously taken advantage of the taxpayers and he makes no apologies for it. His contract is bankrupting the city, yet he doesn’t care. And he continues to put a terrible product on the field giving fans very little to cheer for. Yet like mindless fools, there are still fans that show up and tailgate for the Bengals when the Steelers or Browns come to town and will proclaim that the Bengals will be victorious! The facts don’t matter at that point, because the game is about emotion.

And that same emotion is at play at Lakota and schools all across Ohio. The LEA (Lakota Education Association) has negotiated a contract for itself that is bringing extreme financial hardship to the district. And they, like Mike Brown, don’t appear to care one bit because their actions prove so. And all Lakota can do is make a guy like me, appear to be the “Devil of Public Education” because they have no other card to play. The truth is too painful and admitting that they are helpless to control their costs is just embarrassing. Calling me names is far easier, so that’s what they resort to.

That is also why schools fail time and time again. Because the solution is not in the emotion of the fight, it’s in the business of the numbers. And once the game is done, the reality is difficult to deal with. So like a drug addict needing another fix, those in education who rely on emotion to manage their business find themselves always in need of more, because the reality has not been addressed properly and never will while those in charge use “School Pride” as a mask to cover the real problem.

Rich Hoffman
http://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
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