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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

RE: Correction: Public School Bashing

You're getting closer, but I think I said government school. You sure are spending a lot of time and effort to avoid that one.

"OK. I want to know why you say this. I want to know what experiences you've had to make you believe that public schools make children drones."

I'll play along for a moment. Let's begin with my own experiences in public school, all of it. My parents had my IQ tested when I was very young. It was on the advice of a child psychologist. I don't recommend this, by the way. It creates a very unrealistic situation for children. The test resulted in a very high score. I'm not going to go into a horn-tooting session here. The child psychologist very strongly recommended that my parents put me in a private school. My parents were not rich. We weren't poor, but we weren't what you could call solidly middle class either. Be that as it may, they could have afforded to put me in one of several private schools that dealt with what are euphemistically called "gifted" children. However, my Dad is something of a miser and my Mom was a budding liberal and future government school teacher at the time. The choice was couched in terms something like: "You don't really want to go to a private school, do you?" My parents had a friend who was a High School principal at a government school. He puffed and fumed, "That's ridiculous, public schools can do anything for Steve that a private school can!" (Sound familiar?) So back I went into the government school meat grinder. They put me in some "special" "accelerated" classes, but those were a joke. Their idea of special was to present exactly the same material we got in the regular classroom, but instead of being in with all the other kids, we were in with the other "special" kids. Not only that, but we were in the same classroom with the mentally retarded and autistic kids. So, as an added bonus, we were all now considered "retards" by our former classmates, who regularly reminded us of that status.

And there is the heart of the problem: the government-run schools can't do a decent job of meeting the needs of individuals. They march to a different drum, one shaded by bureaucracy. And please don't hand me any anecdotes about it being better these days. First, because we can trade anecdotes all day and it doesn't establish anything, and second because my children had similar experiences when I let friends and family convince me that the government schools had improved in 25 years. They were all put in academically gifted programs, but when I pursued details in the curriculum, I was told they weren't really allowed to diverge from the curriculum, they could just add additional material and spend more time on the standard material.

Ask your mother, ask your aunt, they must teach the state curriculum. They can't meet the needs of the outlying ends of the Bell curve, they have to teach to the middle. Individualism must be quashed to avoid damaging the self-esteem of those less individual. Self-esteem has become more important than knowledge. And so that all the good little lemmings rolling out of the government schools don't question that model, they get their heads filled with the liberal cotton-candy that the education drones all spew. As the article that originated this points out, we are chipping the corners off our best and brightest in order to bang that square peg into the round hole.

As for your personal experiences, not to be blunt, but you don't count. You are an insider. Your family is not only inside the education nebula, some members of it are (and were) Democrat political operatives. Like it or not, you were pre-defined as one of the "good guys." There is nothing wrong with that, but it makes it difficult for you to defend the wonders of government schooling based on your personal experiences because you didn't experience it at the same level as everyone else. There is also the fact that if five kids have a wonderful time in government schools and five thousand of them get crushed, those five kids are not in a strong position to extol the virtues of government schools.


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