For the Public Good?
Cassy had this in her Facebook feed this morning. Apparently she’s better at handling the risk of high blood pressure in the mornings than I am… This one doesn’t necessarily bother me, but it does bring me back to a couple common points, so off we go to Slate to talk about public education.
I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)
So, how would this work exactly? It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment. Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.
After that, it goes downhill. I admire the author for being happy in her own skin. She admits that she was woefully unprepared for various aspects of life, perhaps one of them being writing, I suppose.
I went to seventeen years of Catholic school. I have to note that for fairness.
So first, I’ve said for a long time that most public schools just focus on driving all their kids to be average. There are exceptional kids that rise above, but public education does nothing to enable anything other than mediocre success. So the author thinks that having every kid the same is going to make America an exceptional thing… oh, wait, she doesn’t. She just thinks that everyone should contribute to schools (which I agree), and all will be better (which I don’t).
Parents invest in their kids, not their kids’ schools. If the schools get better, that’s a happy accident. But the author is assuming that parents are more involved in private schools, when the opposite is likely true. Sure a motivated parent will be motivated anywhere, but the decision to send a kid to private school is not based on wanting to contribute more. It’s assuming that the child will actually succeed more, and that’s the parent’s prerogative.
Hey parents! Do whatever you want. Homeschool the kids if that’s the right thing in your mind. Send them to public school if that’s what works. But act interested, and I bet your child does better.
Updated: Hot Air picked this up. Go read Ed Morrissey’s deconstruction of the whole article.