… Twice is Perversion. This is a somewhat famous quote by the enormously famous Voltaire. Creepy looking dude huh? What does the quote mean? Outside of the more lurid interpretations it has clear meaning for any situation. Do something once for the experience .. but if you do it again, you own it. One time you can explain. Two times you must have liked something about it.
And so it goes with our current political climate. Voltaire deeply influenced our constitutional framers. He was a favorite of Ben Franklins as they were both in the same freemasonry lodge for a number of years… the venerable “Lodge of the Nine Sisters“. This lodge was influential in organizing French support for the American Revolution, and was deeply disliked by the King and court.
When Voltaire died there was a ceremony at the lodge that indicates the level of support for the friendship and of the french in helping America get its start described here:
The hall was draped in black, lit only dimly by candles. There were songs, speeches, and poems attacking the clergy and absolutism in all forms. Voltaire’s niece presented a bust by Houdon (Houdon, a member, also did a bust of Franklin for the lodge, which is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.) Then a flame of light revealed a grand painting of the apotheosis of Voltaire emerging from his tomb to be presented in heaven by the goddess of Truth and Benevolence. Franklin took the Masonic wreath from his head and solemnly laid it at the foot of the painting. Everyone then adjourned to the banquet room, where the first toast included a tribute to Franklin “the captive thunder dying at his feet” — and to America.
-Lodge of the Nine Sisters and Voltaire’s memorial service
Education of the Masses
The interesting thing about the American experiment is that even way back then they knew that it would not work unless the population was morally superior and that they were educated. In fact – for the most part these were considered one and the same. A free society is only possible for a virtuous, well educated population. Part of one’s Education was creating Virtue as well as knowledge of the science, math, political knowledge, the arts and all the components identified in the Renaissance as important to the enlightened person.
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
“To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.”
“[V]irtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
“It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people.”
-Richard Henry Lee
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Likewise – to a man the founders thought that educating the people had to be a primary responsibility of a free moral government.
“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”
Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.
A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government.
“If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav’d. This will be their great Security.”
-Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779
And Yet – We are failing to educate
So with all this ample evidence that the two most important things for a free Democracy, where do we find ourselves today? With regard to Education – our K-12 is considered one of the poorest among 1st world countries. We are failing to educate our population. In a recent Pew Research America was found lacking:
So the U.S. is behind Portugal in Science, Slovakia in Math and Taiwan in Reading. These results are not inspirational.
All of this in spite of the fact that the US has a Department of Education with over 4,000 employees (2018) and an annual budget of $68 BILLION dollars. The charter of the department is to “establish policy for, administer and coordinate most federal assistance to education, collect data on US schools, and to enforce federal educational laws regarding privacy and civil rights.”
But this is clearly not working. We are falling behind. Our Democracy is becoming perverted because our population is not educated, nor virtuous. We were actually better at K-12 with regard to the world when the Department of Education did not exist. It became huge under George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” act, where it basically went from a budget of around $12B to its current budget. There are some in congress that would like to see the whole department abolished. For instance, on February 7, 2017, Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 899, a bill to abolish the department. Massie’s bill, which is one sentence long, states, “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
But eliminating the department seems to be a hasty idea as well. In the grand scheme of things – it’s not been given enough time to succeed. How can we change our trajectory though? Spending more for worse results seems to be a fools bargain. How can we turn this around? Why can’t that $68 BILLION be spent directly on the kids or with the schools? Why do all the “Grants” that get distributed result in larger administrations, while our PTA’s sell cakes to provide notebooks to kids? Most importantly:
Why are our teacher’s not fairly compensated?
If our founders had envisioned an America that was at best mediocre with regard to Education – what would they have done? Based on their resumes they would have taken a leadership role. They would have innovated and found a way for America to show the world the value of education. If education is one of the most important things – then educators must be one of the KEY elements in ensuring success. First – how does America line up with the rest of the world on paying its educators:
Luxembourg puts everyone to shame.
“In Luxembourg, one of the richest countries in the world, an inexperienced teacher can expect to make more on his or her first day than teachers in nearly all other countries can hope to make in their entire careers.”
The U.S. pays reasonably well. But it’s not enough. It’s been clearly shown over and over than 1 inspirational teacher is worth 1000 schlubs there to collect a paycheck.
“The teacher workforce is the single most important ingredient in schools in determining how children are going to fare in their education,”
What if America decided to REALLY support lower education? What if America decided that only people with a PHD in the subject they are teaching should be teaching the next generation of leaders? What if these educators got paid really competitive wages?
Public school teachers earned average weekly wages of $1,137 in 2017, while all other college graduates working full time earned $1,476 per week, according to a report out today from
– Economic Policy Institute.
So even after controlling for various factors that affect pay — such as education, age, and years of experience — teachers still earn 18.7% less than comparable workers.
But what if the $68 BILLION that we currently spend with the department of Education were used to pay teachers!
By taking a lead in teacher pay the U.S. can thwart one of the bigger problems – lack of teachers! More than 30 states recently reported teacher shortages in mathematics for the 2018-2019 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. More pay creates interested graduates to pursue teaching!
In fact – there are a number of horrible outcomes that are attributed to low teacher pay including:
Low teacher pay contributes to shortages and a disinterest in the teaching profession
A 2018 National Center for Education Statistics survey found that less than half of all public school teachers were satisfied with their pay; 45 percent of teachers who reported dissatisfaction said they would “leave teaching as soon as possible” if they could find a better-paying job.16
Teacher turnover is exacerbated in states with low pay. Teacher attrition is highest in Arizona, New Mexico, and Louisiana, where the average teacher salary is $50,000 or less.19
Fewer young people are showing interest in the teaching profession. Despite a slight uptick in the 2015-16 school year, enrollment in teacher preparation programs is still substantially less than in the 2008-09 school year and shows an overall declining trend.20 Forty-five states have experienced declines in teacher preparation program enrollments.21
Our founders were clear. Education is a cornerstone to freedom. Currently the U.S. is failing at its responsibility to educate the next generation (or the last 5 generations many would say).
It’s time to raise teacher pay dramatically. If you look at what teachers make relative to other job’s – it’s pathetic. In NOT ONE state do teachers make above average relative to other professions.
Thats a direct statement of what we as a country believe the importance of teaching our youth to be.
It’s time for a change. Teaching should be the most coveted job in our society. Teachers across the board should be paid like our top Lawyers, Doctors and CEOs. Not like a car repairman or bartenders.
So if our founders were here today … would they try this experiment again? Or would they leave it at Once is Philosophy?
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