The title of the op-ed piece in the LA Times tells you all you need to know about what follows it: Let’s Get Rid of Public Schools. Once again we have a writer reciting the totally stupid assumption that every private school must, by virtue of being not run by a government agency, be better.
Agreed: The national interest requires that all children be educated and that all taxpayers contribute. But it doesn’t follow that we need public schools. We need military aircraft; all taxpayers help pay for them. Which doesn’t mean that we need public aircraft companies. (Although if American airplanes ranked 19th best out of 21 contenders, the public might be moved to do something about it.) Schools aren’t the same as airplane factories, but the analogy is illuminating.
No, the analogy is stupid. We are not manufacturing an assembly-line product in schools, although NCLB is working hard in that direction.
The writer then goes on to compare the goals of schools from 100 years ago as drawn from the Encyclopedia Britannia from that era, of all places.
To find out where things stood 100 years ago, check the celebrated 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1910). "The great mass of the American people are in entire agreement as to the principles which should control public education." No one would dare say that today.
Agreed. Over the second half of the last century society has shoveled all kinds of responsibilities on public schools, primarily because no one else wanted to take responsibility for them. On top of that, very little about the structure of schools has changed with the times (and that goes for most private schools as well). Rather than throwing the whole system in the trash, it’s time to make some drastic alterations.
However, it takes the writer almost to the end before he comes up with his real reason for wanting the complete privatization of public schools.
Then there are parents like my wife and me. We sent our children to public and not private secondary school exactly so they’d become part of a broad American community. Instead, our boys have been made painfully aware nearly every day of their school lives that they are conservative and their teachers are liberal. Making parents feel like saps is one of the few activities at which today’s public schools excel.
Public schools used to invite students to take their places in a shared American culture. They didn’t allow a left- or right-wing slant, only a pro-American slant: Their mission, after all, was to produce students who were sufficiently proud of this country to take care of it.
Bottom line: my kid’s teachers have the nerve to present some information which lacks a "pro-American slant", therefore shut ’em down! Crap, crap, crap!