September 4, 2008

Obama-style program PAYS failing students to get free tutoring!

By David Paulin

In ultra-liberal Austin, Texas, an Obama-style high school program has been unveiled: It pays poorly performing students $6-a-hour to get free after-school tutoring!

Interestingly, Austin's school district already provides free tutoring to under-performing students, thanks to requirements mandated by the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind law. But sadly, those initiatives have failed to perform as expected. Indeed, the Austin-American Statesman's article had an interesting tidbit about the existing program, one that called up the old saw about leading a horse to water. “Austin pays more than $1,000 per student for the service...(but) few eligible students — less than 2 percent in years past — take advantage of it,” the paper noted.

Now former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd, a Democrat, has put forth his pay-you-to-learn program: It will turn underachievers into achievers, unlike the free tutoring program spurred by No Child Left Behind, he contends. His $375,000 initiative -- apparently the first of its kind anywhere -- will be funded by the private sector. That's certainly good news for taxpayers. They'd surely riot if they were hit up for the money, judging by the public's initial and overwhelmingly negative reactions to the initiative.

Todd's program is aimed in particular at a local high school that is notorious for its under-performing students. Among its problems have been high truancy and drop out rates. In one article, the Statesman noted that “more than 600 of (the school's) 760 students had more than 10 unexcused absences in the 2006-07 school year — nearly 80 percent of students missed two weeks of class or more.” Overwhelmingly Hispanic and black, the school was closed last June after failing for five straight years to meet state standards pertaining to maximum allowable dropout rates and testing standards. This month, it was reopened under a new name.

Why are some students failing so badly in politcally liberal Austin despite generous programs such as No Child Left Behind? Todd and other excuse-making liberals blame the problem, in large part, on the fact that many students come from low-income households and, as a consequence, must work part-time jobs to support their families. "These kids,” Todd observed,” sometimes have to make a choice between not eating, not having the things that many of us enjoy, or studying." Yet curiously, neither Todd nor other left-leaning elites offer any hard evidence to support these claims. And not surprisingly, they carefully avoid mentioning a factor that many hard-working and middle-class Austinites see as a significant reason for failing students: It's due to “cultural issues” of various kinds in the liberal “open borders” city.

Consider, for example, the groups of Hispanic students who wait every morning for their school bus, not far from where I live. None of the boys in baggy trousers and loosely fitting T-shirts ever carries school books -- yet more than a few have I-Pods and even cell phones. Usually, it's only girls who carry back packs that, presumably, are stuffed with books. Alternatively, visit a low-income Hispanic neighborhood. In the driveways of apartment complexes, there's no shortage of late-model vehicles, especially brawny pick-ups with fancy hub caps that are popular among illegal Mexican immigrants and their offspring.
Could the owners of any of these pick-ups be the heads of any of the economically disadvantaged families being targeted under the pay-to-study program?

Granted, these observations are hardly scientific. But neither are those being offered by Todd and other liberal educational reformers in Austin. All of them, of course, are part of a long liberal tradition dating to President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs – throwing money at social problems without having much understanding of some of the pathologies contributing to those problems.
In the Statesman's story about the pay-you-to-learn program this week, the readers comment section was filled with disgust and outrage. “Well, it was pretty inevitable, wasn't it?” complained one reader. “We pay farmers not to grow crops, we pay people to have illegitimate babies...” Another declared: “Responsibility starts at home with the parents. Why not pay the parents too? Is this what our educational system has come to? Pay the kids to go to school?”

One thing is certain: Austin represents the future under an Obama presidency.

This was originally published by The American Thinker.

No comments: