Education. You hear about it all of the time: from people on television, from columnists in newspapers, from radio broadcasters, from your parents and teachers. It seems that everywhere we turn, we are constantly bombarded by the importance of securing a proper education.
The politicians, in particular, speak of education all of the time, especially during an election year, when they make all sorts of promises to improve the state of public education. “For the sake of our children,” they say. It is always for the sake of our children, or for our very future. The trite clichés never cease.
“Get an education to prepare yourself for a brighter future,” the establishment urges. “It will help you find respectable employment and keep you off welfare.”
Yet, ironically enough, the public school system itself represents the biggest government welfare program on the books. In the CNMI alone, the public school system takes up the single largest share of the government’s tax budget. Under the “Teacher Academy” and other ‘scholarship’ programs, education majors benefit the most (as much as $12,000 a year) from government-subsidized college financial awards, implying that being a public school teacher is just about the most important, inspiring, productive and meaningful job in the entire world.
The government pays local college students to major in education and become public school teachers. In some cases, PSS teacher aids not only get paid for going to school–they also get their school tuition financed to boot. After they graduate, they then get permanent PSS government jobs until they retire. And thus we have completed a headstart to grave welfare program, which may be renewed if the PSS teacher’s son or daughter follows the same government-financed career path.
With public education, we have created the most deeply entrenched, politically powerful government entitlement program ever devised. Nationally, it is bigger than Social Security, bigger even than Medicare or Medicaid–and much more deeply rooted. In the CNMI, it is bigger than CHC or CUC. Locally, the Public School System is the biggest government racket we have–and the most deeply entrenched. Even the promising school voucher program stood no chance of supplanting this massive entitlement monster.
Education may well be very important; but whenever it is invoked to advance public education, always remember that what we are really advancing is the ultimate embodiment of the corrupt welfare state.
Remember that food is far more important than education. Without food, we cannot live. But we don’t have a massive public food system to deliver the goods.
Strictly a personal view. Charles Reyes Jr. is a regular columnist of Saipan Tribune. Mr. Reyes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org