by William Teach | July 31, 2017 7:57 am
Do you have a problem with government run schools? Do you worry that they have serious issues, like being more about indoctrination than teaching? That they are rigid in thought, waste taxpayer money, are chock full of nutty progressives, and that it’s darned impossible to get rid of bad teachers? That there are political agendas, no accountability, wasted funds, and one size doesn’t fit all? Well, that makes you part of the Confederacy, a racist, bigot, and so forth
What the ‘Government Schools’ Critics Really Mean
The roots of the phrase lie not in libertarian economics but in Confederate rebellion.
It’s right there in the subhead, you haters, you
When President Trump recently proposed his budget for “school choice,” which would cut more than $9 billion in overall education spending but put more resources into charter schools and voucher programs, he promised to take a sledgehammer to what he has called “failing government schools.” That is harsh language for the places most of us call public schools, and where nearly 90 percent of American children get their education. But in certain conservative circles, the phrase “government schools” has become as ubiquitous as it is contemptuous.
What most people probably hear in this is the unmistakable refrain of American libertarianism, for which all government is big and bad. The point of calling public schools “government schools” is to conjure the specter of pathologically inefficient, power-mad bureaucrats. Accordingly, right-wing think tanks like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Heartland Institute and the Acton Institute have in recent years published screeds denouncing “the command and control mentality” of “government schools” that are “prisons for poor children.” All of these have received major funding from the family of the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, either directly or via a donor group.
All government is not bad. Nor do all libertarians and conservatives think government is bad. It’s about what government does that can be the problem, like, say, when the county school board decides that one child will be sent to a traditional schedule school on the other side of the county, meaning they have to get up very early in the morning to catch the bus, while the other will be sent to a year round school. And the parents have little to no say about this, and just have to deal with it. That is not hyperbole. That is something that happens around Wake County. Though, it got a lot better once Republicans briefly took over school board. There is still very little a parent can do about where their child is sent, though.
The libertarian tradition is indebted, above all, to the Chicago economist Milton Friedman, who published a hugely influential 1955 paper, “The Role of Government in Education.” A true believer in the power of free markets to solve all of humanity’s problems, Friedman argued that “government schools” are intrinsically inefficient and unjustified. He proposed that taxpayers should give money to parents and allow them to choose where to spend education dollars in a marketplace of freely competing private providers. This is the intellectual foundation of Ms. DeVos’s voucher proposals.
That makes sense, does it not? Empowering the parents. Not so fast
But the attacks on “government schools” have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism — and those roots are still visible today.
If you think it can’t get any nuttier, this is the NY Times allowing an anti-Christian bigot, someone who is virulently against an displays of religion in public, and is behind a host of other far, far left Progressive beliefs, attempt to smear people who think that the public education system is failing the children. She ends with
When these people talk about “government schools,” they want you to think of an alien force, and not an expression of democratic purpose. And when they say “freedom,” they mean freedom from democracy itself.
Apparently, wanting choice for your kids in how they get educated is anti-democracy or something.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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