Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sound And Fury

There was a protest yesterday. There were people, placards, and pavement pounding. And there were problems. The main problem being one of trying to suss-out exactly what was being protested.

The signs said things like “support our teachers” and “keep the PUBLIC in Public Schools!” But as the placards all had vaguely positive things to say, not one of them had anything specific to say. The actual story (at the link above) is less interesting than the discussion that a friend of mine and I had once we had seen the protest.

That discussion was basically this: public schools are important! They are too important to be left to corporate charter schools and parochial schools to handle the bulk of the training. It’s not that private schools don’t have a role to play, but they cannot be the answer to every problem. …especially not if it is done at the expense of a public school system.

I’ve heard the arguments that the public schools teach things that parents disagree with and that is the reason for the resurgence of the parochial schools. That is a fine and good reason, but you cannot expect to have that education paid for with public funds. Not if you expect to live in the modern, technological society we have. If you expect to live in a world with modern medicines, and high technology, unless you have an educated population.

I’ve heard the arguments that the public schools don’t teach a good curriculum. That may or may not be true, but the idea that having your children educated by a corporate for-profit charter school is not really right for the entire population. A for-profit school system must have the profit margin as its first goal. Excuse me for my ignorance, but isn’t the first goal of a school to teach?

I’ve heard the argument that schools are dangerous places and that students are unruly. How is that the school’s problem? If a child misbehaves, it is a problem of the child and the parent. To blame the school is to blame the highway that we have people speeding!

I’ve heard the argument that the schools are under-funded. If this is true, I fail to see how moving money out of the public school system and giving it to the private system is a solution.

And the DUMBEST argument I have ever heard is the argument that one needn’t support the schools unless one has children in that system. The problem with this line of logic is that no man is an island. If you expect to live in a world that has the things that we have all become accustomed to, we need an educated populace. We need to keep progressing or we start to stagnate. To innovate you need an educated younger generation. You need a generation that looks to the future and keeps striving to improve. If you want a world that reaches for the future you cannot have a world in which your children taught that the world was created six thousand years ago and that all the great scientific discoveries of the past are bunk if they contradict that.

A world that continues to make great strides cannot be attained by a populace more interested in profit than in innovation. In short – if you want a world that continues to improve for everyone, you cannot have a world that takes away from everyone to give to small groups of religions or corporations. Studies show that moving public monies into private educations simply increases the gap between those who can afford a good education and those who cannot.

To paraphrase the old saying: A rising tide lifts all boats, but only if they have intact hulls. If you smash the hull, the boat will sink!

Wherever you are today I hope that you will support your local public school system.

Don Bergquist – May 17, 2014 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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