So many of you parents are selfishly focusing on whether your children will get an education during this global pandemic. Have you forgotten the bigger issues facing us?
For one, do you even consider the incredible difficulty public schools and their public employees are facing?
I think you need reminding and I found just the people to help. Deb Henton is executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators and Kirk Schneidawind is executive director of the Minnesota School Boards Association. Together they’ve written a piece for the Star Tribune saying “now, more than ever, public schools need all of us to stand with them, regardless of where we sit on the political spectrum.”
Sounds kinda authoritarian for my tastes, but who am I but a taxpayer.
The they go heavy on offering us a history lesson to make their case:
Public schools have been in our country longer than we’ve been the United States of America. The first free public school opened in Boston in 1635. Some colonies created laws requiring schools for towns of a certain size, but early efforts were sporadic and disjointed.
Yes, the first “public” school in America, Boston Latin, is also the oldest still in operation. It was exclusively for boys only until 1972, and today it’s the model of everything progressive public school supporters say a school should be.
Just kidding. It’s the opposite of that. It doesn’t take “all-comers” as the public school boosters like to say their prized schools do. In fact, it admits students on the basis of high-stakes standardized test scores in the way that the boosters claim private schools and charters do. Even worse, to up their chances of getting their children in, parents seek out test prep programs. Remember, test prep is bad. Except when the affluent do it.
All of that is kinda funny for America’s most long-standing model of “public” education, is it not?
Back to the history lesson from the Strib writers:
“Framers of the Constitution believed in public education for all children. Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had vastly different political views, but they shared a belief that publicly funded public schools were a cornerstone of our democracy. “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it,” wrote Adams.”
Good stuff here. I wonder why they didn’t add the part about Thomas Jefferson – Mr. Cornerstone of Democracy – also saying this:
“I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. … This unfortunate difference of color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people.”
He also said Blacks were biologically predisposed to smell bad, have sex without passion, endure suffering more eagerly, being cognitively incapable of sensing danger, and “in reason much inferior…in imagination … dull, tasteless, and anomalous.”
Continuing with our public school officials:
Horace Mann is credited with developing a more coherent system of public schooling in the 1800s. While many did not agree with him, his six principles for public schools prevailed: 1) The public should not remain ignorant; 2) public education should be paid for, controlled and sustained by an interested public; 3) such education will be best provided in schools that are inclusive of children from all backgrounds; 4) this education must be nonsectarian; 5) this education must be taught by the spirit, methods and discipline of a free society; and 6) this education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers.
Is this a bad time to mention that Mann, the father of public education, homeschooled his three kids while lecturing everyone else about the virtues of public education (thus, starting the trend of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do fauxgressivism)?
And, getting to the point of this emotive missive, they say:
This is not the first time a curve ball has been thrown at our public schools. Our schools have weathered world wars, past epidemics and natural disasters. They are creative, responsive and — most important — open to every single student who comes knocking.
We need our public schools, and they need us. Strong public schools truly do make strong communities. It will take all of us, whether through words or deeds, to support our public schools in these trying times. Public schools are the great equalizer, the hub of our communities, there for us in good times and in bad. Working together, we can keep our public schools strong — so when this crisis ends, they will still be there, ready for whatever comes next.
The jist? Ask not what your nearly $800 billion in education spending can do for your kids, but what your kids’ per pupil income can do for the pensions, positions, and programs of the system that has failed them for decades.
That said, this isn’t a call to be misanthropic, to do away with care about the common good, or to break down the need for social interdependence that makes us a country. My being flip here isn’t an endorsement of virtuous selfishness, but a call for parental reason in the face of appeals from the state to deprioritize your first duties.
As intelligent beings commissioned by God to be immovable guardians of your children’s best interests, you should know that it’s strong families, not schools, that make for strong communities and a strong nation. And you can only be a strong family if you attend without fail to the unique needs of your kids, not the gross politics of public employees who are forever vested in their public education boondoggle.