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Our Socialist Public Schools

As the United States teeters on the brink of right wing echolalia on the issue of health care reform, some progressives are trying to appeal to reason, pointing out that government-run health care is not actually a very radical idea, that it would save money, and that it’s firmly based in powers assigned in the Constitution. When right wing groups scream in horror that health care reform, because it’s created by the government, would be socialist, progressives counter with a rhetorical question: Do you think that public schools are socialist, just because they’re government-run?

Down in South Carolina, Republican congressional candidate Richard Cash doesn’t think it’s a rhetorical question at all. He answers, “The time is now to stop socialism and reverse the growth of the Federal Government by eliminating such as the Department of Education.”

Statements like this lead me to question whether the United States of America is really united. I don’t see where I can find common ground with people who think that public education “is fostering a mentality of dependence”.

19 comments to Our Socialist Public Schools

  • Chris

    I agree with Mr. Cash.

    The public school system and the DoE should be dismantled.

    Public Schools are a money pit that does not work. It is too bent on teaching towards tests and rewarding inept ineffective teachers with high five figure and six figure salaries (before you spout that is not true, check out the salaries in New York State).

    Toss the unions.

    Make parents foot the bill for everything other than a basic education (no sports – join little loop, no more 78 electives being offered when the state mandates only 20 be offered).

    Education is the magic bullet for any society but those being educated need to be taught not babysat.

  • randy ray haugen

    it does not suprise me that mr. cash wants to eliminate the dept. of ed., republicans need a really ignorant electorate to buy their b.s. policies.
    never mind the fact that countries with publicly financed schools out perform the u.s.
    never mind that government run healthcare out performs the u.s. in most advanced countries.
    and heaven forbid we teach our children, with physical education classes, the benefit of exercise and living healthly lives. that might actually cut down on heathcare costs. how utterly foolish!

  • Kevin

    Hmmm.. how can we have cheap labor for our fast food resturants and cannon fodder for our wars if the people are educated?

    How will we be able to scare ignorant rubes into supporting our explotation and appropriation of all resources and production to the top 1% unless we have a vast pool of uneducated consumers and drooling ditto-heads?!

    How can we teach our children the truth about the 6,000 year old Earth and the Christian Foundations of our American Consitution if we are forced to send them to Publics (Re)Education Camps?

    All government property such as schools, bridges and roads, and parks and forests and especially the police and fire departments should be immediately sold to people smart enough to have money and then we will see America strong again!

  • Jacob

    We fixed the public school problem in our house. We just dont send our kids there…

    • We don’t have a public school problem in our house, except that our kids are eager for school to start again, and we have to wait one more week. Our schools are excellent, a jewel of our community. They increase property values because the schools’ reputations are so good, people move here from far and wide. Our public schools are high quality because our community cares about education.

      • Jacob

        Wow! I think they should send people out to study your schools. The rest of the nation graduates with the same level as people in thrid world countries. As a nation we have one of the worst public schools in the world. I want to say we are ranked 47th. If your community is doing something different please work on spreading that. Of course, its also possible that your standards are just lower

        • That has to do with the disrespect given to education in most American communities, not with public education in particular, Jacob. Keep in mind that private schools on average in the US are not demonstrated to outperform public schools on average in the US. So, if there’s a problem with public schools in the US, there’s a problem with private schools in the US too.

          Public schools do well in communities where neighbors care about their children enough to get involved in their schooling. Remember – public schools are locally run by locally elected governments and boards consisting of community members.

          Think that public schools in your community could do better? Get on the school board or a parent committee! It’s the local community’s responsibility to make the schools better.

  • Chris

    The only way to fix schools is to

    1. boot the teachers union.

    2. school vouchers where parents are responsible for their kids eduction, not the two families on either side of you that have no children.

    Once parents foot the bill they will get involved because of the personal cost to them. Parents involved means teachers can teach and not babysit.

    Lower costs, increased quality and fewer stupid kids graduating.

    • But Chris, my public schools are very good, and we have teachers unions and no vouchers.

      Your idea of an “only way” clearly doesn’t stand up to the facts. We’ve found another way to make things work quite well where I live. We love our public schools here.

      Have you ever thought that perhaps a lack of community support where you live is the problem?

  • Jim

    Can anyone show me a peer-reviewed and published study showing that, controlling for budget size and student characteristics, public schools perform more poorly than private schools?

    I see a lot of smack-talk on this thread about how awful public schools are, but I don’t see anybody linking to a study like that which would demonstrate that public schools really are worse than private schools. Come on, let’s see those studies.

    Here’s what I know based on peer-review studies, ones carried out under the Bush administration that desperately wanted to prove how bad public schools were compared to private schools:

    Controlling for student characteristics, public schools do a better job of educating in math and reading than charter schools, do just as well as private schools in reading education, do mildly worse than private schools in math education at the middle school level, but do mildly better than private schools in math education at the elementary school level.
    http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006460
    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/studies/2006461.asp

    You may perceive that public schools are awful, and there are a few reasons why that might be. First of all, private schools can reject whatever students they want to reject, choosing the students they want. Public schools take everyone. The result is called a selection bias, and it means that public schools are going to show lower scores because they work more with students who are struggling to begin with.

    A second reason you may perceive that public schools are awful is that public schools are being asked to educate a larger share of the population to a greater extent than when you and I went to school. When I went to a New York State public school, a very large number of students at that school received “non-regents diplomas” — that is, they graduated but not meeting the higher standard set by the New York State Board of Regents. A further large number of students simply dropped out, and while that wasn’t considered ideal, it was deemed acceptable for some. Nowadays more students are expected to participate at the higher levels and to take the Regents test, so of course scores will be lower. Moving to another state, Maine high school students rank down at the bottom in average SAT scores. Is it because Maine high school students are rotten? No, it’s because all Maine high school students are required to take the SAT, while most other states make it optional.

    Catherine Rampell wrote a really smart piece on selection bias in state-level test results just a few days ago, by the way, if you’d like to read more on this.

    • Jacob

      I would agree. Private schools in America are just as bad. To be honest with you I think the entire system in America is bad and most of that stems from the fact that parents dont care as much as they used to. People expect the schools to take care of everything and they put very little effort behind there children and schooling. I think the problem is bigger then the schools and is a society issue at large. Even when the parents do get very involved and work to make their kids successful they are surrounded at school with kids whose parents have not made that sacrafice (or are struggling just to keep up because they are a single parent or something like that). The entire system gets dragged down

  • qs

    The Department of education is a rather new department that was totally unnecessary.

    Of course we get rid of that.

    • On the one hand, qs, you say that public education isn’t good enough. Then, you say that a government agency charged with the improvement of public education is “totally unnecessary”.

      Do you see how those two claims don’t quite fit together?

      It seems to me that people who don’t like public education – the community option – feel that way for reasons having to do with their pre-existing political ideology.

      • qs

        Well just get rid of 90% of the classes and just teach Math and English and possibly a few third languages.

        Ax all the history classes since we don’t want government taught “history.” The social sciences are mostly made up or even if they aren’t, they aren’t useful for anything unless you’re doing something very specific.

  • ReMarker

    Cash, like many other anti-education people, is a God freak. I was once told by a God-freak relative (from South Carolina) that I only needed enough education to be able to read the Bible. Fortunately, I was smart enough to know he was plumb dumb.

  • Gary

    The problem with conservative thinking today is that they fail to understand what the government of the United States is. We seem proud to be the founders of the first “free” country, yet we demonize the government created during its founding. The government isn’t some far-off kingdom that dictates what we do. Our government is “US”. When we collectively pool our resources by paying taxes, we do so because we can do much more as a team than we can as individuals. Capitalism is not a form of government. Businesses care about their bottom lines. They don’t care about the people of America, nor are they supposed to. You only have to look into the past to see horrid examples of things businesses have done in the name of making a profit. The government is not intended to be a profit making organization, and it’s better that it isn’t. Money corrupts, and we want our collective pool of money to do good for our people… something no business is expected to do. Those who believe that capitalism is a wonderful thing have forgotten what was learned in America’s past. Tell that to the 146 garment workers who jumped to their deaths during a fire in 1911 because the business they worked for locked the doors to prevent them from taking too many breaks. Without the caring hand of our government to keep businesses in line, they’d rape us all and keep the profits for themselves. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re destined to repeat them, and conservatives have not learned from the country’s mistakes.

  • Ben

    I would second Richard Cash there. I would totaly agree with dismantling public education.

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