Saturday, February 19, 2005

Why All True Republicans Should Be Worried

The Super's Blog is taking a brief timeout from our satire fun with the Flubsome Chronicles for a very serious message. This message does not purport to represent any group except the contributors to this forum.

But....this is why true Republicans should be worried. Believe it or not, it might shock you to know that the main contributors to this blog site mainly vote Republican. Believe it or not, several of us have been supporters of vouchers and/or public school choice in the past. We thought public schools had become complacent and happy with the status quo. Not true anymore. Every school system we know has taken the school improvement challenge seriously and has made major strides in becoming accountable and even aggressive, in their effort to meet the challenge. Are they perfect? No - but who is? Only One.

First, some background:

The first public schools had as their primary purpose, the goal of teaching children literacy so they could read The Bible. In this way "The Old Deluder," Satan, couldn't deceive them. Years later, another purpose emerged for public schools. As new immigrants flooded the nation, the "Common High School" was envisioned as a way of creating "Americans." The idea of the "great melting pot" was born and the common public high school experience became a "rite of passage" as an American. While not everyone stuck it out to the end (the dropout rate was always an issue) even those who didn't, learned to read, write and understand enough about history, freedom, liberty and the constitution to understand the value of being an American. Despite all the criticism leveled at public schools, this is one common experience that almost all Americans had. Struggles and battles to provide equity for children of all races were taken on and mostly won. Along the way, America became and still is, the greatest country in the history of the world. Liberty, freedom, wealth and a standard of living unprecedented in the history of the world. Doesn't seem to us that public schools are the problem.

When Republicans give up on public schools by blurring the lines between public and private schools, they open up the risk of "Balkanizing" America into thousands of little private schools everywhere. Who will decide what brand of history is taught? We admit, some of the PC mush that passes for social studies today might appal our American forefathers, but the battle over controlling the curriculum will go on for ever. How will you feel if every local community has a separate school for every conceivable interest group there is? What will happen if Americans give up the fight over what should be the common curriculum and just let anything go? Let everyone do their own thing. Just give up the fight, and allow anyone to teach anything. Somehow, we don't see that contributing to the cause of becoming an American. Especially when immigrants continue to arrive in America, most of them full of hope, and possessing the desire to better their lot in life. Somehow the common experience called public school, still seems an important aspect of becoming an "American."

It seems to me the greatest way for groups of diverse people to respect each other is to value their commonalities and not just their differences. The public school has helped create the richness, individuality and creativity that America is known for. The common American public school experience has contributed to one of the greatest countries ever known. We can hardly imagine that public schools are now the primary problem. A problem so severe that they need to be broken up into thousands of separate private schools with few, if any, commonalities.

I fear that us Republicans are about to throw the baby out with the bath water.

What do you think?


At Tuesday, February 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do I think?
What this writer says ..

At Wednesday, February 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might surprise some to know that we (only speaking for contributors to this site)might agree with dropping compulsory attendance age to 14 and allowing 14 year olds to be employed with some restrictions. It is time for society to realize that becoming personally responsible for one's future is what all successful people do. You can mandate compliance but never quality.

Many of these students would return to school by 18 and become model students- because then they would care. (Go to Ivy Tech and other community colleges and look at the older students that came back because they took responsibility and now they care.)

At Wednesday, February 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Historically, one of America's greatest strengths is that some governance is left at the state and local level. That allows local creativity to blossom and local experimentation to be judged by results.

I don't think vouchers should be launched nationwide, but I do think a voucher system -- freedom of choice by parents about their child's education -- is worth trying in those communities that desire it.

Unfortunately, there seems to be an enormous fear by America's Teaching Establishment (likely well-founded) that freedom to choose would result in students leaving poor performing schools for better performing schools.

Clearly, that would be a problem for the paid staff at the poor performing schools.

I doubt vouchers would result in thousands of tiny schools teaching obscure topics -- the economics of a voucher system require certain economies of scale and they have to be attractive to their customers - the parents and students.

But let's find out -- try vouchers in small experiments by willing communities and willing parents. I have a lot of confidence in parent's when it comes to their child's education.

Sadly, America's K-12 Educational Establishment seems to have moved from a benevolent monopoly to a self-sustaining monopoly -- NO experimentation in small settings.

In my lifetime, I've found few monopolies that serve their constituents well.

Vouchers offers freedom and competition; two more great American traits.

At Wednesday, February 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why not provide all schools with the same freedoms as a charter school and try that first?

We do agree that when parents choose they put more personal interest into it.

Why not parental choice for public schools?

Most of us school folks aren't as opposed to choices as you would think.

Some of us are looking 20-30 years down the road and aren't sure how the future will fair by mixing private and public resources and blurring the lines.

At Wednesday, February 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE the idea of giving all schools the same freedoms as Charter Schools, but total system change is impossible in the political world of public education.

That's why letting a few communities and schools have freedom of choice makes sense and seems achievable.

If the charters or vouchers are successful in a few areas, there would be better opportunity to expand on that success.

At Friday, February 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want all schools to have the same freedoms as Charter Schools? Then abolish collective bargaining and send ISTA packing! Our schools can do better, but not with ISTA and collective bargaining.

At Monday, February 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, now...ISTA employs a lot of people, right across the street from the Statehouse.

Education is the THIRD largest employer in Indiana (behind the Post Office and Wal-Mart) and we can't afford to be losing more good paying Hoosiers jobs.

Besides, Indianapolis has too much vacant office space as it is with Guidant leaving.


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