A group of prominent education reformers, headed by former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, is urging the institution of what is sure to prove one of the most highly controversial initiatives in education reform history. To ensure that all children are well educated and equipped to succeed in the global economy, new teachers would be required to renounce marriage in order to devote themselves more fully to the task of preparing each and every child to excel in standardized test-taking.
Paige said the inspiration for the Alliance for Teacher Abstinence is based on the grueling KIPP model of schooling. The Knowledge is Power Program is the most well-respected charter school network in the country. Its college preparatory schools serve predominantly low-income black and Hispanic students. KIPP students endure 9 hour school days, attend school two Saturdays per month, mandatory summer school, and hours of nightly homework. Their teachers are on call 24 hours per day to answer student/parent questions. KIPP schools receive glowing accolades and millions in funding from the corporate world.
According to Paige, credited with the Texas Miracle when superintendent of schools in Houston, "Without imposing celibacy, we realize that the success of KIPP schools is not widely replicable to all public schools across the nation. Celibacy will free teachers from concerns which might distract them from the rigor, strength of character, and discipline necessary to closing all achievement gaps. Most KIPP teachers are single, unfettered by the demands of marriage, and able to be on call 24 hours per day. On the other hand, very reliable data prove that the majority of public schools teachers are married. Some put the figure as high as 77%."
Reformer and civil rights activist Amy Wilkins added, "We simply CANNOT ignore the consequences that result when teachers are distracted from their mission to raise test scores by the demands of marriage and parenthood. We know it sounds radical, but we favor federal monitoring and annual standardized celibacy testing to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that teachers have remained unmarried. We would also offer incremental merit pay based on the number of years a teacher remains celibate."
The organization boasts the membership of another former Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett, often dubbed the Great Moralizer. Bennett is authoring the Institutio Generalis Missalis Educo, a handbook of morning and evening meditations and rituals to assist teachers in remaining celibate and true to a single-minded focus on raising children's test scores. In what appeared to be a paraphrase of the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians, Bennett said it is good that teachers should be free from all concerns which might distract them from the mission which has been assigned to them.