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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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

School Jihad

Wow! Even more righteous indignation than I could have possibly imagined. I can't help but notice that at least 75% of Alice's grandkids may be ambivalent on the subject of organized Christianity, but they most definitely worship at the altar of government education.

Before I proceed, and so my comment above might seem less flippant, I'll present my bona fides on the subject. My mother had a doctorate in education. English education to be precise. I helped her get that doctorate by tutoring her through statistics when I was in high school. My stepfather was the chairman of the education department at the University of Colorado. He was in the business of making teachers. I have been immersed in the public school cauldron for nearly my entire life. My experience in public service has simply reinforced most of my basic beliefs on the subject.

I don't have the time to hit each response point-by-point, so here are some of the high spots:

"Good old, government-operated North Stokes served an entire generation of Brenneises well..."

I think not. But go ahead and poll said Brenneises. You'll find education ended for them when they left good old Nancy Reynolds. I know this because I've asked them. In any case, Nancy Reynolds is an anecdote. A single school does not a system make.

"I feel that as far as mathematics and physics go, David Parker was a real asset for those of us lucky enough to be in his classes."

Indeed he was and is. But corollary to my point above, a single teacher does not a school make.

"...my experiences, private/parochial school products that I have had dealings with haven't always been the most intelligent/personable/sociable/ capable/etc./etc./etc."

Straight from the anti-school-choice playbook. What was that you were asking about indoctrination? You might as well go ahead and include the assertion that home schoolers are all weird. I'm not sure how the personality of students has anything to do with the efficacy of government-run schools.

"This is such BS! I'd like to know this writer's background. Is she a teacher or an administrator? I doubt it."

More party line. Why is it that you public school fans always assume that teachers and school administrators have been conferred with some god-like ability to solely discern criticism of education? That's like saying that anything critical you utter about Toyota is BS because you aren't a mechanical engineer.

"What is so silly here, is the argument that public schools kill a child's individuality."

If it is so silly, why didn't you offer a single piece of evidence that it isn't true? All you did was evoke some depressing socialist world view where individuality doesn't exist. I don't know how things are around your desk, but the area around mine isn't anything like that. Although we work as a team, individual accomplishment is extremely important. In a capitalist system, that's how the world works.

"And unless things have really changed, every project in grade school isn't team-focused. That's a ridiculous notion."

Apparently you aren't familiar with the middle school concept. That's where they turn the entire school into a team. Apparently though, the idea of the team is to make sure no one gets pregnant or commits a felony because there's certainly no education going on there.

"The fact that teachers are forced to teach tests is due to 'no child left behind'."

And there it is: the classic education blob propaganda line. I've been hearing variations on that one for thirty years. "The fact that teachers are forced to [insert favorite abhorrent but forgivable teacher behavior here] is due to [insert favorite abhorrent government, preferably Republican, behavior here]" What I can never understand is why, if the government forces teachers to do all these things that seem to ruin education, do teachers always mount such passionate defenses for why schools should be run by the government?

"So, what's the difference between public education indoctrination and home education indoctrination?"

Well, for one thing, home and private schoolers get to choose with what they are indoctrinating their children. You will find that rarely includes indoctrination into socialism, but if that is the wish of the parent, then so be it. I'm not sure who invented this right and responsibility of government-run schools to indoctrinate anyone into anything, but parents have always had the right to indoctrinate their children as they see fit. Socialists and other totalitarians hate this because their system fails in the presence of independent thought.

"I just don't think that one source is as good as multiple sources of information, influence, and perspective."

And what makes you think, other than the indoctrination you received from the government-run schools, that private and home schooled children are only exposed to single sources of information, influence, and perspective? Why do you assume that the government-run schools do provide this exposure? You're revealing a bias that was ingrained into you by the education blob. That bias, like all other prejudice, has no basis in fact. My experience is that private and home schooled children have far more diverse outlooks since they are not mind-locked into the bureaucratic socialist regime of the government-run schools.

"And I guess I've been completely snowed, but I also wasn't aware that I have been molded into a passive, obedient, dependent, and intellectually reliant citizen."

Don't feel like the Lone Ranger. You're not alone in that blizzard.

"Matter of fact, I've been questioning the 'truth' that our government has been proclaiming for quite a while now..."

Really? So what are your views on how the government handled the Branch Davidians? How about Ruby Ridge? What about Somalia? Kosovo and Bosnia? How about the Elian Gonzalez affair? If the 'truth' is really known, you question our government when control of it is held by the GOP, but I'd bet real money you didn't have a lot to say in the way of doubt from 1992 to 2000.

"Wonder what the next generation of Americans would be like if suddenly all kids were home schooled?"

That's easy. It would be a lot like America was about three generations ago, except with quite a bit of technology added in. Government-run schools are a recent aberration in western civilization. I know that's not the view you got in school, since they teach that first the Earth cooled and then the Democrats showed up and created public education, but reality is somewhat different. On a purely subjective level, I think we would be in a lot better shape. Of course given that home schoolers as a class always excel in any reasonable measure you care to offer, there might even be some objective evidence to support that as well.

"Maybe opponents to public education just want to educate those that can afford to send their kids to private school..."

More teachers' union talking points. We've heard it before, rich people who claim that the government-run schools are dangerous, ideologically sterile, and poor-performing are actually lying because they just want to keep the poor downtrodden masses ignorant and barefoot. That kind of class warfare bombast is rarely helpful in a rational discussion of education.

I know the title of the article addressed public education, but the body clarifies: the problem isn't necessarily public education, the problem is government-run schools. Once again, considering the litany of woes caused in education by the government, not the least of which are miserable salaries, I fail to understand why a rational person would defend the idea of a government-run school. Who says that private-sector schools are not public? Why do we think the government is the only entity capable of running the public schools? Money is no more to the government than the hairs on our heads. The private sector can pay teachers their true worth and they wouldn't waste money on stupidity (grief counselors, school psychologists, social engineers to perform studies).

The defense of government-run schools and the aggressive manner in which their proponents pursue it is actually evidence of the indoctrination mentioned in the article. Against all reason, the public school fans will stridently defend a system which is completely broken. Barring insanity, the only explanation is a thorough job of indoctrination supported by a dandy collection of propaganda.


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