For some time now the American system and tradition of public education has been under attack by the Far Right. Shrieking radio and TV talk show hosts have alternately ridiculed it as useless and pathetic, and decried it as Un-American! I thought it was absurd nonsense and ignored it.
But of late, say the last five or six years, I've seen a shift. Conservatives in general, and Republicans as a tenet of faith it seems, have begun using both tactics in general public discourse. Here on Gather, I could name a dozen members (and I have no doubt there are far more) who will happily tell you that public schools are subversive, useless, anti-Christian, elitist, horrible places to send your children.
WHY?!? Why have public schools, and public education in general, become the bug-a-boo of the Right?
Public education became an underpinning of the American Republic when it became apparent to American leaders that an uneducated public in a modern world was simply unacceptable, and that private education would never make that happen. It could ONLY happen if the public at large provided the funds for land, buildings and teachers. And it would ONLY be effectively done if that were a public funding process (tax) and not dependent upon the annual willingness of the public to ante up. And that's what was done. Throughout the country, local school districts were formed, and within those districts taxes were adopted (generally by plebiscite), land was purchased, school boards were formed, teachers and administrators were hired, and public schools became the norm.
I HAVE a public school education, and it was a damned good one. It got me into one of the most prestigious private colleges in the Midwest. But I keep hearing that "That was then... this is now." So I took a look. I have a grandson in sixth grade. Looking through his books, I see more pictures than I'd like, but the basic information is there. He's learning the same history I learned (plus what's happened since), the same science, with the advancements, the same grammar and writing skills... I'll be damned if I see what the Right is screaming about.
So, how 'bout it folks? What's buggin' you about public education?