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Why Does the Political Left Seem So Intent on Killing Public Education?

If we want to survive as a culture, public education must succeed. It’s time for a change, and Conservatives want cities to embrace true progress, and end ancient liberalism, not public education.

ANSWERING A FALSE QUESTION

Recently another community voice from Shorewood asked He used a misguided historical revue to support his premise. That premise: that public education (presumably as we have it now, or under his vision or reform) is what those Puritans desired. Otherwise, why would he make such a blatant endorsement of the first colonists
for public education?

“Public education was a major goal for the early colonists.”

Clearly, he’s trying to use the Puritan arrival as a wedge to make a broader point that Conservatives are somehow contradictory in their policies and rhetoric.

He is correct. He based their entire curriculum around the Bible studies of the local church and they had a vision of hyper-local public education to increase the intellect, reasoning and understanding of the world around them. The Puritans came from among the Enlightenment, and had a profound respect for higher education. 

In his historical journey, the author strangely emphasizes some of the “South’s”
methods of focusing on family-based education and “personal responsibility,” and even more strangely emphasizes on only their men receiving education, and
even brings up race. The clear inference is that the “political right” is more like
the Southern pre-civil war-schooling methods, than they are like the Northern
states, who had to drag the Southern states

The problem I have with the entire piece is the underlying presumptions within. That the fundamentals of education had to change completely, and the principles that make an educated community great (morals, respect for law, full literacy, access to higher education, academic diversity for changing economic sectors) must necessarily change into a more centralized, more expensive, more secular, less accountable system. He makes several false presumptions while making grand generalizations about “social conservatives” (That schools should preach against abortion, and promote a single religious point of view). Really?

“One of the traditions of the American education system has been non-government interference in private and religious schools.”

Actually, the “tradition,” as accurately pointed out in the beginning of the article, was non-government interference in ANY school. Notice how he conveniently changes the terminology to appeal to our common goodness. The American tradition was that the local superintendents or municipal boards that began funding them were allowed to run their schools as they saw fit. The concept of the Federal government being involved was as strange to the first 200 years of American education as Communism was to 1940’s American politics. In fact, it was seen quite the same: anathema, corrupt, a power-play, impractical.

To conclude his piece, the author states quite presumptively:

“Whether one is a social conservative, fiscal conservative or libertarian [as though they all fall into the philosophical box he subtly defined throughout the article]; the goal of ENDING public education holds the promise of ending liberal influence once and for all. [Hmmm… Way to make an argument for it!] That is the real goal of the privatization movement. [What “privatization movement?”] But, if they are successful, I don’t think they are prepared for the unintended consequences. Without a doubt, taking American education back 200 hundred years would be devastating.”

The author abruptly (and awkwardly) ends his article, and I believe it is not a mistake. Rather than explain WHY that would be devastating, or surmising what those “unintended consequences” might be, he ends the conversation with an implied “Selah” moment, as though he just said something completely true, completely devastating and completely irrefutable.

Here’s my take, and yes, I believe I speak for the VAST MAJORITY of Conservatives (social, fiscal, libertarian, or whatever other subcategories one can define) when I say public education isn’t fundamentally wrong. The status quo is what we take issue with.

Why is the political left seemingly intent on KILLING public education? Their policies do not foster economic success, so it would seem logical to deduct that they would not foster educational success. The political left has had a virtual monopoly on public education for at least 60 years, and the influence goes back well over 100 to the time of John Dewey and Horace “the state is the real sponsor/god-parent of the child” Mann. Why do I believe the political left is killing public education? Because they insist on protecting and merely adjusting the policies of the past. The recipe for death is doing the same thing over and over, and society in general shows the fruit of such policies. The “proof is in the pudding,” so to speak:

The testing, the curriculum, the general hiring practices, and even the food regulations are increasingly fitted to federal standards. Even the moral standards, never intended by the founders, have been nationalized. Lawyers from across the country can take a local district to court over their science curriculum.

Because of increasingly more expensive education, state- and federal-funding is a huge portion of public school revenue. This means the local district loses autonomy and must submit to the strings inevitably attached to all funding sources. The money comes from somewhere, why must it be laundered through D.C. or the state Capital first?

Most public schools are the only choice local parents have, and public funds are only for those neighborhood schools the government has built. About a dozen states have opened up voucher and charter programs to increase competition for students, but like any industry, protected markets become wasteful, inefficient and suffer decreasing results. Yes, it seems cold, but so are is the reality of a bad education.

The advent of public unions in the mid-20th century changed education for generations. Education was relatively cheap. Retirement was seen as a personal responsibility. Health care was reasonably affordable. Tax revenues were plentiful in a rapidly growing, young superpower. Today, public-sector union membership outnumbers private-sector for the first time in history. These public teacher unions make tenure, shallow-evaluation, no-merit pay, and political power more important than results.

Local schools, possibly for reasons of practicality and scale have become more centralized, reflecting more the diversity of entire communities, rather than individual neighborhoods. Now, instead of local schools reflecting the morals and principles of the parents in the neighborhood, they are forced to be as amoral as possible. Morality is offensive because it says some things are wrong. Rather than parents working hand-in-hand with local schools and teachers in supporting universal values, the schools are forced to become gray slates where the only absolutes are math, language and science. Oh, and tenure.

The problems in education are many, and the solutions are complex. And they usually involve parents as much as systemic solutions. But parents must have a system they believe in. This is the very reason the federal government must be banned – and in some cases, state government – from ALL local education. In nearly any organization or industry, most decisions must be made as locally as possible, near the source of the problem. This is, in fact the philosophy of the “political right;” running public education like a business as much as possible means it operates better and achieves better results. The “political left” has so badly demonized that process that they cannot possibly tolerate such practices in education, their fortress of power. 

But how can one argue with the results? Anyone who believes in free markets and the right of us all to enjoy life, liberty and ownership of property should be consistent and see the benefit of this in the education industry.

Is public education a physical school location, or the education of the public? The answer should tell you what side of the spectrum to which you belong. Progressives have ruled the debate by mastering the language we use, and creating the meme. Conservatives believe the local community should promote the education of the public. Liberals believe the local unionized school district should educate the community. Therein lies our difference.

Education is an industry, no matter how slice it. But is it protected industry, or competitive? The America of 200 years ago, which the author initially praised, then later reviled, was actually quite static. But it was local. Operating public education like the industry that it is, logic would lead you to believe that results would improve, quality would improve, and yes, even market share would improve. Ergo, public schools would likely grow, not end.

Conservative policies are, in fact, more “progressive” than our Progressive (liberal) counterparts’ outdated ideas. Imagine that! Rather than trying to bolt the wrong tire on a different part of the car as most liberal “reforms” effectively do, Conservatives want to reinvent the car, not the wheel and make it run more efficiently. Conservatives believe in education, for all races, genders and economic tiers. Yeah, imagine that! Conservatives believe in our schools, locally-funded, locally-educating, and locally-benefiting. Reflecting the beliefs, morals and economic needs of that local community. They believe results should dictate methods and methods should drive results.

Public schools are suffering from cultural decline, yet cultural strength and the infusion of virtue was praised by liberal “reformers” as being the very purpose of the public school system.

“Let the common [public] school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day; every pillow would be more inviolable by night; property, life and character held by a stronger tenure; all rational hopes respecting the future, brightened.” – Horace Mann

Wow - was it arrogance or just plain ignorance? Well, we’re holding them accountable, and their grade is F, and their return on investment is one of deep debt and pending bankruptcy. We, the shareholders in our children and our communities at large want the monopoly to end!

If we want to survive as a culture, public education must succeed. It’s time for a change, and Conservatives want cities to embrace true progress, and end ancient liberalism, not public education.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Gee Randy, there a number of things that could help: How about less "busy" time where the kids are doing activities that are just meant to keep them out of trouble. I would rather have my kid out playing the re-learning something a different way that they already know. How about making student's less bored by letting students learn at their own pace. Right now instructors teach to the main part of the class, the smarter ones are bored and ones who need more help aren't getting it. How about integrating more technology into the classroom. By integrating I don't mean adding MORE, but utilizing it more effectively. At my job we test prospective employees with computerized test that adjust the test to the taker's knowledge level. By the end, we know where exactly their skill level lies. How about tying required curriculum in with the student's interests. If a student enjoys building things, a math class could be designed around applied engineering principles. Some biology is done in the field, but why not more? There are a couple ideas, and I'm not even an educator!
The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Bernie, there were a number of reasons for the Great Depression. One of them was the excesses of the 20's. When the economic bubble burst, the stock market over compensated (just like the dot-com bubble burst under Bill Clinton and the housing bubble burst caused by Jimmy Carter). By March of 1930, most stock prices had risen back to where they were in March of 1929, not an all time high, but a respectable level. What extended and worsened the depression was the government's failure to instill consumer confidence back into the public. Most of the country had been smacked real hard, and were weary of trusting anything financial. That is the problem going on right now with the Barack Hussein Obama administration. There is no confidence right now that Barack Hussein Obama is the person to fix the economy!
The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Actually Bren, the separation of church and state was primarily a financial issue. It's primary architect, Thomas Jefferson, was tired of paying taxes to the official state religion under the king, as well as any tithing he gave to his own church. Jefferson was a confident enough man to trust in his own beliefs even when a majority of his family, friends and neighbors still belonged to the Anglican Church. Fear of being indoctrinated or converted was not an issue.
Randy1949 September 18, 2012 at 08:53 PM
So you're suggesting that education be more individualized. I'm right there with you. However, that approach might require smaller class sizes, because one teacher can't be in thirty places at once. Kids love video games. I'm sure an innovative person could come up with games that teach reading and math and made it fun. But that costs money.
Bernard Forand September 18, 2012 at 10:49 PM
@ The Anti-Alinsky 3:51 pm on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 Actually Bren, the separation of church and state was primarily a financial issue. It's primary architect, Thomas Jefferson, was tired of paying taxes to the official state religion under the king, as well as any tithing he gave to his own church. Jefferson was a confident enough man to trust in his own beliefs even when a majority of his family, friends and neighbors still belonged to the Anglican Church. Fear of being indoctrinated or converted was not an issue. Bernie replies; Anti it was an economic issue? Jefferson first tried to separate church and state was in the House of Burgess. That was previous to the revolution. England held Authority. Separation of Church to state was motivated by the abusive control and chaotic polices to support the structure within a government as Europe was demonstrating through the bloodshed and misery that the Churches were responsible for. Disruption of political ideologies further demonstrated the inadequacies in the administrating of a government, with constant turmoil’s within the various religions. Simple deduction; eliminate the Church authority. Note that battle would be finally won by Hamilton’s administration after Jefferson retired from politics.

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