by Dick Rowland

The lead editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on Sunday 2/19/12 “Teacher testing should be DOE responsibility” sure did, as usual when government education is the subject, miss the mark.

First, it talked about “accountability” and how everyone wants that but that it would be “more easily achievable if only there could be an agreement on how people are to be held to account, and by whom”. The definition of accountability in my dictionary says that it relates to being “answerable, liable, and chargeable”. As you might expect, the editorial then abandons accountability and reverts to the milder “responsibility” where liability and chargeability are left at the side of the road. In short, they invite inadequate human behavior by eliminating real personal penalty for poor performance or reward for excellent work and results.

What is wrong here? Well, first, ask yourself some questions: “In your experience as a youth , as a parent, or both; who took the most intense interest in the child’s needs, desires, mistakes and overall performance in the process of developing him or her into a responsible, productive adult? “Who held themselves accountable and in the process, kept the child accountable? Who does society hold responsible? The answer, dear reader, is, in every case, the PARENT. It is not the teacher, the principal, the DOE or the Governor. None of those love, cherish, nourish, protect, enhance, correct, support and deeply know the child as does the parent.

We are thus led, logically and irrevocably, to the conviction that the parent should have a commanding role. Yet, the most revealing fact about the Star-Bulletin editorial is the parent is NEVER addressed. As a matter of fact the word parent is not used even once. As the old saying goes; “what are they, chopped liver?”.  Consequently, the editorial is useless or even damaging in looking for a solution to the stated problem.

The founding fathers of our nation would be downright angry if they could see the current situation. The idea of government provided schooling was way outside of their value system. In the Declaration of Independence one of the “unalienable rights” of “all men” is the “Pursuit of Happiness”. Please note that it is not the provision of such but the striving for it. Striving feeds the human soul, effortless acceptance eats away on it. None of the founding documents of the USA even mention education. If you are a parent, ask yourself, is there any personal happiness more profound than successful parenthood as revealed in a child developing into an adult who is a responsible, productive, positively participating member of society? Education is a key part of that as is good, sound character. Both being the prevailing values that are key to a stable and prosperous society and good parenthood is essential.

Back to the title of this piece: It is time to answer the question posed. To use an overused saying, this is not rocket science. It is simply PARENT POWER. The quickest way to get there is to take the government money now devoted to schooling, divide it by the number of children and put the resulting money ($12,000?) into a “Friedman Grant” and put that in each child’s backpack. The sole authority to spend the money in ways most relevant to the child’s development would belong to the parent. Like magic, children would disappear from classes and schools the parents thought were inadequate, only to reappear in the schools parents thought were good for their kids. The teacher and principal evaluation system would be unnecessary. So would the DOE.

In the title, it is asked why the people in charge seem unable to be practical. The short answer is that we, the people, have not held our elected officials’ feet to the fire. The Declaration of Independence presents a vision for us: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it….” In this case the government has failed parents and failed the society. It is time for the people to assert their authority and compel those elected and appointed officials to face facts or to find other employment. To complete the title thought we just add: “ Because we do not fry them at the ballot box”

 Go for it! Give your elected representatives a call. While you are at it, you might also call the Star-Advertiser editorial director and share your thoughts with her.