- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2010

Liberal ideology and the teaching profession are inextricably linked. David Horowitz sounded the alarm. He warned us that academia was leading young minds in a direction that would come to affect every aspect of American tradition and policy. Pity the enemies of liberalism and our children because, well, here we are.

Same-sex marriage laws are sweeping the states. So-called medical marijuana laws are, too. The public option almost made it into the health care reform bill, and union demands mean weak-kneed politicians and lawmakers are turning their backs on fiscal conservatism in favor of continuing failed one-size-fits-all education policies. That’s the short list.

In his book “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America,” Mr. Horowitz hands parents a powerful coast-to-coast tool to help them look inside the campus classrooms of private and public institutions. What happens on campus doesn’t stay on campus.

In an interview, Mr. Horowitz talked about how “deliberate liberal bias” has ruined America’s schools. Teachers unions, he said, are the root of the problem.

“They don’t want another voice in the room,” Mr. Horowitz said. “The teacher unions and the Democratic Party have a monopoly on the public school systems. … Teachers get paid for showing up. No one in the world gets paid for showing up.” And, he continued, “the kids fail and there’s no incentive to teach.”

The nation’s capital is a microcosm of that comment. The Washington Teachers Union has consistently rejected attempts to hold teachers accountable for undereducated students for two decades. All the while, D.C. students in traditional schools have been stuck on the lower rungs of the regional and national academic ladders.

“Teachers,” Mr. Horowitz said, “are overpaid and underworked, and protected … by the Democratic Party,” and unionized teachers will “fight with their last breath.”

Indeed, after more than two years of negotiations, union and school authorities have signed off on a new D.C. pact that gives the schools chief greater hire-and-fire authority and includes a merit-pay component that would reward teachers who raise the academic level of their students.

But what are the union’s rank and file being encouraged to do? Reject the deal out of hand.

If that happens, students will continue to languish.

Indeed, parents used to have the option to use public dollars to send their children to private schools. But President Obama and Congress scrapped the program, and there is no leadership on the local level to resuscitate the issue.

Understand, when it comes to unions, City Hall is like the “Mailman” Karl Malone of NBA fame - it always delivers. The schools-union agreement, for example, grants concessions to teachers for things like professional development. But the city is so lopsided when it comes to education policy that D.C. failed to clinch a top spot in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top contest. Interestingly, Delaware did by, among other things, getting school and union leaders to tie tougher teacher evaluations to student performance.

What’s equally troubling is that the District’s mayor wants to raise per-pupil funding to finance such programs as Head Start and early childhood education - neither of which guarantees students will achieve. In fact, a study of D.C. Public Schools in the 1990s proved the opposite: The longer a child stays in the system the worse off he or she is academically.

In his new book, “One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy,” co-written with Jacob Laksin, Mr. Horowitz again exposes the reality that all that money we spend on college tuition, textbooks and the like is being used to pay the salaries of professors and instructors who have abandoned such academic principles as teaching a child how to think. Instead, they teach a child what to think.

Parents should remember that what a future teacher learns in college eventually makes its way into America’s schoolhouses.

As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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