The disturbing war against public education

The right-wing’s current war against public education is both disturbing and infuriating.

From Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker‘s attempts to that state’s public school system to remarks by perennial GOP Presidential candidate — and loser — Ron Paul‘s absurd claims that the government wants “absolute control” over public schools to “indoctrinate” children, the goal is obvious: These people want to gut and dismantle our public school system.

“The public school system is now a propaganda machine,” Paul says. “They start with our kids even in kindergarten, teaching them about family values, sexual education, gun rights, environmentalism — and they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American.”

Paul was joined by Michele Bachmann and former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain at a rally on home schooling in Iowa this week to bash public schools.

Bachmannn bragged about home schooling her five biological children — a frightening prospect given her constant mangling of historical and geological facts.  Political consultant Garry South probably says it best about Bachmann:

Maybe while Bachmann is hiring staff she should also bring on a geography coach so she knows what state she’s actually in and what happened there. Having already misplaced the battles of Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire, will she also think Mt. Rushmore is in South Carolina, or confuse Iowa for Ohio?

Home schooling is popular in Floyd County and I’ve talked to a number of home-schooled kids who have received a good education. But the Floyd County school system is often recognized as one of the best in the state and that’s because of the hard work of its teachers.

I’m a product of the Floyd County School system and had the good fortune to get a quality education from a number of excellent teachers.  Ruth Hallman, my English and journalism teacher, is retired now and lives near Richmond. History teacher Roberta Hewitt is deceased as is chemistry teacher Max Thomas, who encouraged me to become a writer. These people taught me to learn and I’m forever grateful to them.

When I talk to high school kids today, not only in Floyd County but at other schools where I speak to media classes, I find students who are aware, interested and enthusiastic about learning. It was the teachers at those public schools that turned them on to learning.

Floyd County has a long and rich tradition of good teachers who had a profound impact of students. I know a number of teachers in the school system who are dedicated to their profession and express a genuine interest in their students.

While some urban school systems have problems, it is wrong to condemn the entire public school system as “propaganda machines” for the state.  What Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and others are pushing is nothing but propaganda itself.

Their comments along with the incredibly stupid actions by elected officials like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are far more damaging than anything taught in our public schools.

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21 thoughts on “The disturbing war against public education”

  1. Thanks for that post Doug. I’ve taught in public schools for 35 years, and I agree-most people who teach school genuinely like kids and really care about their learning. In Floyd County, there are plenty of us who work w/o pay or recognition two or three hours after our students leave every day of our five day work week, and work several hours every weekend. We are frustrated by the growing list of expectations and responsibiities thrust on us by parents, administrators and school boards, but most of us manage to have a smile for our students and maintain our optimism that students can learn and we can help them. To have a student tell us, years later, that we made some sort of difference or made an impact is a small crumb that gives a boost and a lift that it hard to believe! If anyone can thank a teacher for anything, please do it!

    • I am also a product of the Floyd County School system. Doug and I were classmates at Floyd county high. I taught Vocational education at Floyd and Radford city for 13 years and retired in 2001. We need to look no further than our own state to see that the Republican and especially the right wing (tea party) would dismantle the public school systems in a heartbeat, if given a chance. These self righteous people believe that they are the only people capable of educating or deeducating the people of Virginia. They sincerely believe that God has chosen them to save our society. They are intolerant of any views that do not fit into their world that is perfect in their eyes. If you do not agree with them then you are “un american” “un patriotic” and any of the other terms they love to throw around. Public Schools would be fine for them if they could be in control and prevent the teachers from alowing the children to think for themselves . I personally have no objections to any form of education but I believe that our public school system is the best way to provide an education for all the children, not just those who can afford the luxury of a private education. Bill Conner

  2. Public schools and education for all is one of the hallmarks of the American democratic experience and a legacy of Jeffersonian principles. The folks who lie about it and want to dismantle it instead of support it are the true demagogues.

  3. LOL- I think you completely missed the point. What Scott Walker, Ron Paul, et al are trying to accomplish is not “to gut and dismantle our public school system”, but rather get the teachers’ union in line with the real world. Wisconsin has a budget problem, too, and asking the teachers’ union to pay for a portion of their ED medication would go a long way towards helping. The media (as usual) is totally distorting what is happening.

    • Michael, so what you want to see happen is for everyone to be dragged down into the depths of poverty rather than looking at the enormous income disparity in this country – the biggest in its history? Is that it? Unions created the middle class and all of the good that has created. You want to go back to the Social Darwinist days of the late 19th century? It’s to our collective detriment that your teachers did not help you develop the ability to think for yourself. Walker and his pals don’t want their fair share of the marbles – they want them all. And when that happens in this country, you’ll have a shooting war instead of a class war. Why don’t you educate yourself and read up on the union organizing battles in the early part of the 20th century? Yes, working class people, like yourself, died at the hands of the robber barons to establish the right to determine their working conditions. Is that the world you want to return to? Sad, real sad.

  4. The first goal of education should be to graduate competent 3 Rs. These are useful to investigate and understand all previous collected knowledge, which is expanding at a rate faster than any generation can keep up with. More importantly, the 3 Rs are the basic skills needed to cope with reality in any time, in any place where 2 of the Rs are language specific.

    Isn’t homeschooling still constrained by teaching the test? The curriculum is determined by someone(s). Does it make sense and is it useful to produce a product ready for the marketplace? Apparently not. Consider the cost to achieve a successful result. This result is now classified as a bono fide moron, prepared for nothing to provide a living for itself or others. This product is marginally qualified for more of the same, only this time it’s invited into debt slavery. A college degee of any kind is an advantage, even if it doesn’t apply to whatever job you might be able to find.

    The higher education industry is self serving and provides customers to the happy pill industry. Both public and higher education provide ample supply for military recruits/volunteers, if they are young enough. Another carrot and maybe another broken promise. Do this, be better, get more, maybe.

    Good luck to all.

  5. Jeff Blakley: Unions did NOT “make” the middle class… they made great American companies insolvent. Ask GM. What made our middle class is trickle down economics. Which, btw, is the same reason why the “poverty” class in our country has a better lifestyle (A/C, two vehicles, cable TV, etc.) than the average European.

    FACT: we, as a nation, spend more per capita on education than ANY other country… yet scholastically we rank amongst the worst. Why could that be? We know throwing money at the problem doesn’t fix it…… open your mind and think.

    Now let’s look at what IS working. Private schools and colleges do, for a start. What’s different? The absence of government and unions, that’s what.

    • A phrase that is variously attributed comes to mind: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” I learned long ago (and I’m violating my policy by even replying to you) that is is pointless to try to engage in a dialogue with a person blinded by ideology.

  6. As a public school teacher I tend to get amused when politicians talk about public schools. The assertion that public school indoctrinate kids politically is especially laughable. This certainly happens occasionally and the pols love to break out testimonials when they serve their purpose, but I have seen no solid data that this is the norm and have not seen it in fifteen years of teaching in public schools. In my opinion the views of staff at public schools tend to mirror the social/political/religious views of the communities they are located in. I know the teachers and staff in Floyd County and I know that our focus is on students and helping them meet educational goals.

    I find Michael’s assertion that private schools are better than public schools due to their lack of unions laughable as well. Private schools pick and choose their student body and exclude many potential students. Public schools educate ALL students. This has EVERYTHING to do with the differences in performance that exist.

    • MH:

      The spam filter flagged your post because of its racist overtones. I don’t approve posts that contain racism or which make unsupported claims. You provided no links or reference to you claims, you hide behind your initials and your tone against the President appeared racially motivated (particularly in the way you used his name). If you want to engage in such tactics, do it somewhere else.

  7. I find the concept of “indoctrination” in public schools a bit over-the-top, too. That’s not what the problem is. The problem is big taxpayer dollars with bad results. You can call those silly “statistics” lies if you’d like, but I’m pretty sure that’s turning a blind eye to a really bad problem.

    I totally agree with Will in that the staff of public schools mirror the social/political/religious views of the communities they are located in. Good call. The problem isn’t at the local level though. Teachers are good, hard working American people. We all agree on that.

    I’m asking you to consider a change to a failing system and _I’m_ the ideologue? Wow…..

    Consider this possible scenario. Instead of sending a kid to specific school based on geography, lets give parents a voucher for each kid so they can take their kids to whatever school they want. Public OR private. Give parents a choice. What would happen then? The crappy schools would loose all of their students and go away, possibly? Good teachers would be sought after and not-so-good teacher would go away, possibly? Could the union handle losing that much power?

  8. Doug – you apparently did not listen to all the news reports last year about the school children who were chanting the Obama song – that’s what I was quoting verbatim. I am not a racist but I do not approve of indoctrinating young school children into a political philosophy that many Americans including myself view as Socialist. Sorry if I came across the wrong way, I was just trying to offer a different view. You unfortunately have confirmed what most Conservatives believe – that anyone who does not like Obama is a racist. Maybe we just don’t like him or his politocal agenda that is ruining this coluntry.

    • MH:

      Post a link to a credible news source reporting this and I might believe. Post a reply without using Obama’s middle name and I might believe. Post a reply without hiding behind initials and I might believe.

      Until then I stand my original assessment. I don’t care for Obama but I don’t stoop to racial overtones to criticize him.

  9. I think I am aware of the incident that MH refers to. It happened about 2 years ago. The video can be seen here. It was a favorite of a certain cable news network and radio talk show hosts for a time. These types of incidents do occur occasionally and are used as fodder for the propagandists who want to caricature public schools as indoctrination centers for left-wing ideology. That this happened in only one of our nation’s 95,000+ public schools is somehow not a part of the conversation and doesn’t seem to enter the minds of those viewers targeted. That MH is using a two year old incident as proof of indoctrination by public schools should tell everyone just how rare these incidents are and how weak his argument is.

    • Will:

      Thanks for the info. As I suspected, hardly a pattern nor was it a report from a credible news source. Just the kind of crap I don’t allow on this web site. That what I hate about viral videos like this. It becomes a tool for the haters to use to incite the weak-minded.

  10. Doug – the website posted by Will Norton contains a virus so you may want to delete it. As for what you consider a “credible news source” that is a matter of opinion. I won’t be bothering you again with my posts because it is obvious you have already drank the Liberal Kool-Aid. Sorry for trying to have a two sided debate.

    • MH:

      Talk about stereotyping. I don’t agree with you on Obama and schools so I must be a liberal.

      Two-sided debate is always welcome here as long as it is done without name-calling or racial innuendo. You crossed the line so your departure is neither unexpected nor regretted.

      I’ve said this many times before but I guess I’ll have to repeat it again so you can understand it.

      I’m not a Democrat.

      I’m not a Republican.

      I’m not a conservative

      I’m not a liberal.

      I’m an American.

      There is a difference.

      Class dismissed.

  11. Michael and MH: Teabaggers carrying water for the extremely wealthy.
    I still say that the dismantling of public schools and public education will be a huge travesty and will hasten our downfall to just another banana republic. There is class war going on whether you like it or not and the rich are winning.

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