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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 5 years ago

Our View: The real fix for schools


With Florida being a typical bipolar, 50%-49%, blue state-red state with a predominantly left-leaning media, Republican Gov. Rick Scott seldom gets credit for the good he does and is doing.

Surely you didn’t read anywhere in Florida’s mainstream media that Gov. Scott received a standing ovation last month in Washington, D.C., when he spoke at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. Scott told his audience, among other things:

“My message is simple. Everything we do in government must be focused on helping families pursue their dreams by getting a great job, a quality education for their children and keeping the cost of living low.
“In fact, every day, when confronted with a new legislative idea or proposal, I first ask, ‘How will this impact a family making $40,000 a year?’”

Those who know Scott know that what he says is the way he lives. He is relentless in staying focused on a goal. (If only those in Washington would follow through on Scott’s message.)

Lately, Scott particularly has emphasized his goals for education. We all have heard his wanting to push “STEM” degrees at the university level — degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. He, likewise, appears determined to reign in the ever-rising costs of a college education. And, in late October, he introduced his “College and Career FIRST (Focusing Investments on Results for Students and Teachers)” education agenda for the 2013 legislative agenda.

It’s safe to say Scott laid out for the Federalist Society that in the last two years of his first term, the top-three items on his agenda will remain jobs, education and reducing the cost of government for taxpayers.

Readers of these pages know we have been among Scott’s staunchest supporters from the day he declared his candidacy for governor. He, so far, has remained true to his campaign pledges — far unlike his most immediate predecessor, refusing to shift his principles for the sake of political expediency. He’s pragmatic about this position, too: Scott is ready to accept voters’ rejection in 2014 for doing what he believes is right rather than doing what might be popular.

We’ll take exception, however, to Scott’s efforts on education. We’ll applaud his earnestness and determination to try to improve Florida’s public education system. Scott never walks away from challenges on the job. He is convinced — and he is right — that Florida’s economic future and fortunes will hinge on how well today and tomorrow’s Florida children are educated and able to perform in the 21st century economy.

But after reading Scott’s College and Career FIRST agenda, we couldn’t help but jump to the conclusion that this is another color of lipstick and a different dress on the same tired and bedraggled state public education bag lady.

Scott hasn’t been in Florida long enough to have seen what we have over the past 30 years — year after year, decade after decade of governors and lawmakers attempting to turn Florida’s public education systems into something they never will become, nor are capable of becoming.

Sure, they make progress now and again — Gov. Jeb Bush is often cited as the most successful in implementing reform in the past 30 years.

But the truth is, little, if anything, has changed. Just look at the SAT scores in the accompanying box. And keep in mind the scores have hovered and deteriorated even after scores of legislative reforms and millions upon billions of more dollars poured into the public education systems.

You can detect from Scott’s College and Career FIRST agenda that he is trying to maneuver and reform within the system, offering mild reforms likely to gain support of legislators, teachers and parents. Scott isn’t stupid; he knows few people would tolerate what really must be done. He has learned about “government in the margins,” drip by drip.

Here’s the truth about public education in America: It has become an abject failure, the epitome of socialism.
Think of it this way: No one owns Florida’s public schools. Sure, taxpayers do. But they really don’t have an owner’s control; they don’t make the rules. They send their money to Tallahassee where 160 elected politicians dictate how 67 school boards with 300,000 employees in 4,000 schools are to educate more than 3 million students.

And what do we think is going to happen in such a system — in a system in which so many parents believe, because their sales taxes and property taxes fund the public schools, that they abdicate the education of their children to a monopolistic bureaucratic system?

We get exactly what we deserve.

We wish Gov. Scott well in his efforts to reform Florida’s schools, but little will change. The only way to reform public education is to blow it up and — yes — let the private sector sort it out.

It’s remarkable that in a country where everyone knows the private sector is better at everything than is the government, we persist in letting our most valuable possessions — our children — become wards of the government.

President Obama’s insistence on punishing anyone who earns $250,000 or more a year — i.e. who trades peacefully and fairly with another his labor for money — reinforces what most American proponents of free enterprise have known for the past four years: Obama is driven by socialistic ideology, not by economic common sense.

Raising taxes, especially the income tax, on anyone retards economic growth and kills jobs. In few instances is this better explained than in a classic book that should be required reading in all U.S. high schools and colleges: “The Income Tax: The Root of All Evil,” by Frank Chodorov, 1954. To wit, the following excerpts:

“If we examine the income tax carefully, we find that it is not a tax on income so much as it is a tax on capital.
“What the government takes from me is not what I consume, but what I might have saved. To be sure, I might have spent some of it for a new suit or to paint my house, but some of it I might have put in the bank, where it would have become available, at interest, to someone who would have used it to build a new factory, enlarge his plant, open a store or buy a farm.

“That’s what generally happens to savings. Certainly, a good part of the earnings of a corporation are put to plant improvement or expansion, which it cannot effect if the earnings are confiscated. Hence, the effect of income taxation is to impair the capital structure of the country.

“Since all wages come out of production, and since the amount of production is in proportion to the amount of capital in use, it follows that the income tax, by depleting capital investment, tends to reduce both job opportunities and wages.

“Furthermore, the goods that are not produced because of the lack of capital surely do not help the consumer; the less goods on the market the higher the prices he must pay.

“The income tax therefore hurts the wage earner to a far greater extent than by what is filched from his pay envelope. It hurts him by increasing his cost of living and reducing his earning power.”

The way Obama sees it, that is “fair.” In truth, Obama is “soaking” not the rich, he’s “soaking the poor.”

To read Gov. Scott’s College and Career FIRST agenda, go online to:


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