I’ve been observing what appears to be a nation-wide war on public education, and to the “greedy” schoolteachers who profit by being employed therein.
In state after state we see education budgets being cut and teachers being laid off, along with movements to voucher children to private schools, and to replace Public Schools with so-called Charter Schools, which are privately operated schools paid for with taxpayer money. (Some charter schools are founded by teachers, parents, or activists who feel restricted by traditional public schools. State-authorized charters are often established by non-profit groups, universities, and some government entities. Additionally, school districts sometimes permit corporations to manage chains of charter schools. The schools themselves are non-profit entities…Wikipedia)
This “War” is driven by certain Conservative and Libertarian leaning folks who espouse an anti-government agenda, seeking Norquist’s Utopia where the government becomes so small that you can drown it in a bathtub. They deplore any kind of enterprise unless somebody is making a profit from it. They derogatorially refer to public education as “Government Schools” evoking images of Soviet style institutions as well as the schools established in both the USA and Canada to “civilize” Native Americans.
I was prompted to write this because of a recent LTE in the Reformer. The author stated that “there is no evidence to support the notion that private schools lead the way in educational effectiveness. Recent large scale research comparing public and private schools indicate public schools are equally or more effective at producing academic achievement than private schools.” ( Kristina Naylor, April 4).
I can vouch for that.
Full disclosure: except for the first grade, I never set foot inside a Public School. I got a good education and was able to gain entry to one of the finest Engineering schools in the country. I was convinced that this was a result of my private education.
This changed in my freshman year when I encountered a kid on campus from my home town. I knew he had gone through the public school system. He was in the same department as I was, but he wasn’t in any of my classes. I inquired how come?
He replied that he had “exempted” his whole freshman year by virtue of having taken all the required courses in his public high school before entering college. I was astounded. My school offered none of them. I was taking Calculus I. He was taking Calculus III. This was a humbling experience.
Naylor further stated that “…former Bush education under-Secretary Diane Ravtich has changed her school reform position. She now believes the voucher programs she initiated to move more children to charter/private schools are “disrupting our communities, dumbing down our schools and undermining our public schools.”
It’s not my intention to disparage private or charter schools. Many of them are doing a superb job. However, I wish to dispel the notion that public schools are inherently inferior, and that we need to replace them.
The “War on Public Schools” like similar “Wars on___________” is bogus and needs to be ended ASAP.