The Pie is Falling: Why Public Education Isn’t Designed For All Kids

failing schoolAs immigration reform takes center stage again, the US Department of Education has sent a letter to public school districts reminding them that “all students”- legal or not- are entitled to a public education.

As an immigrant myself, let me say for you what most of you are thinking: What a crock!

The DOE’s Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice says now that some information is off limits: “[D]istricts may not request information with the purpose or result of denying access to public schools on the basis of race, color or national origin.”

If there was a Hypocrite-of-the-Year-Award–I mean besides the Noble Prize– the author of that letter ought to be writing up a thank-you to the Academy right now.

Never mind that the debate on illegal immigration isn’t about these made-up quotas, but whether those who did not avail themselves of the legal process to enter the United States are entitled to an education provided by the taxpayers.

Anyone with a child in a public school knows the stack of paperwork that the government–including the federal government–requires parents to fill out to enroll their children. Not only does this paper work include information such as race, color and nation and origin, but it also includes more none-of-your-dog-nab-business information like how much money your family makes.

Stay tuned too, because that will not be the half of it after Common Core Standards Data collecting is fully implemented.

This information, we are told, is necessary to help the government identify students qualified for federal programs such as free-and-reduced-lunch, and English Learners. But most importantly, this information is collected to prevent–some would say aid in– discrimination.

Well, at least the U.S. Department of Education got that part straight in the letter alluding to the fact that collecting such information may lead to exactly that- discrimination.

Unfortunately the current education system is set up, not to aid the poor, but to exploit the poor–including immigrant families. They collect this data to allocate money away from you and to more deserving poor families.

But let me break the news: Poor and immigrant families are not more stupid or care less about their kids than affluent families. And money is not the most important factor in the success or failure of education.

That’s right, a kid’s IQ doesn’t increase if his dad gets a raise. And immigrant parents’ desire quality education for their children as much as anyone who has an entire family tree rooted in US citizenry.

Nah, this is nothing but political barter that will further enslave minorities to a system that is failing the vast majority of the very demographics that our public bureaucrats claim to want to help.

Truth be told, the U.S. public education system was not designed to educate all students, not even all children who can prove U.S. citizenship.

Just like non-public schools, public schools are designed to educate some students.

It’s just not politically correct to say so.

If that were not true, why would anyone in their right mind pay twice as much for education by sending their children to private schools–or choose to homeschool their children? Families who seek non-public options state that there are issues including academic quality, lack of religious education offering, inadequate special needs services, and political differences.

Some may say that that’s right; religious education and political nuances do not belong in the public school classroom.

Isn’t that quaint–and prejudiced? You can’t have it both ways; you either meet all children’s needs regardless of preferences, or stop saying that public schools educate all children.

The same U.S. Department of Education that sent out the letter above in the letter above actually acknowledges it cannot meet the needs of all children on its website where the federal government addresses Free Appropriate Public Education for Students With Disabilities: Requirements Under Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It reads,This pamphlet answers the following questions about FAPE according to Section 504: Who is entitled to a free appropriate public education? How is an appropriate education defined? How is a free education defined?”

Yes, I snicker a little every time I read that. Private schools be publicly tarred and feathered if they dared taking a tone of deciding what standards are appropriate for children in general, or falsely advertise services as being “free.”  Yet, the not so subtle between-the-lines is an admission that government entities divide kids into buckets of those who deserve and those who don’t–and public, homeschool, and special needs kids don’t always deserve the same as others.

Speaking of private school students, the fact that public education is not designed for all kids is clear when it comes to public education funding.

This is evident in the mass panic by educrats and unions when the topic of vouchers or tax credits pops up.

The pie, they say in reference to the public education budget, is simply not large enough. If all kids were funded, the pie wouldn’t get larger–the slices only smaller. uses this as its first argument in its Top 10 List to oppose private school vouchers: “Texas cannot afford to finance private education as well as public education,” reads the coalitions info page. “There would be only two ways to pay for vouchers—take money from already under funded public schools or raise taxes. Both are unacceptable.”

Dennis Van Roekel, the president of America’s largest teachers union the National Education Association, is fast to agree.

“We’re not providing adequately now,” said Van Roekel in an interview with the New York Times.  “Why would you take away” financing from public schools?

And it’s not just money going out. It’s an attendance game. While anti-school-choice-folk oppose public money going to private institutions, they also know that the system is counting on a certain number of dissatisfied parents who will take their children to private schools or home educate. The public school echo-system would be rocked if private schools went out of business and homeschool unlawful. In their own words, there just isn’t enough pie to go around.

That is debatable, as there appears to be plenty of money in the public education business–if it only went to educating the kids–and not funding goofy regulations and pet projects for politicians that require schools parents filling out government forms about income, race, and family income…Wait a minute?

While the Department of Education may have talked themselves into a knot on the topic we can all agree on this premise: public education is not designed for all kids, unless all children are included by design.

Karin Piper

Colorado PolitiChick Karin Piper is an award winning author and transparency expert specializing in education and union transparency. She provides policy tools necessary for parents, union memberis, teachers and decision makers to become informed consumers in the educational marketplace. She also serves as executive director of, an organization she helped found, and works with various other non-partisan likeminded organizations. Karin was a finalist for OGI's 2012 Burke-Carr Public Interest Awards and nominated as candidate for Charter School Friend of the Year in 2009. Her knowledge of state and federal open records laws and tireless advocacy for open union negotiations has been featured by major media outlets across the nation. Her debut book, CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents, was awarded a 2009 finalist in best books for parenting and education, by USA Book News and appeared in bookstores around the world. Born and raised in Sweden, she lives in Douglas County, Colorado, the epicenter of education reform. Karin is a frequently sought as a parental voice and expert opinion in response to much of today's political edu-rhetoric and legislation proposals. She has been interviewed by many news outlets, including CBS, NBC, KNUS, EdNews, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and many others.

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