Thursday, June 23, 2011
Why I Don't Listen To Political Conservatives: A Five Minute Primer.
Conservatives are known for making very broad claims. One of the oft-repeated ones concerns public school vs. private education. it goes something like this: "Studies show students in Private Schools consistently outperform those in Urban Public Schools. Therefore, privately owned and operated schools are better than ones funded by taxpayer dollars and ran by the Government.
Permit me for the moment to accept this as truth for the sake of argument. I'd like to offer the following explanation to all of this:
1. At some point, there was a massive movement of so-called "White Flight" out of the Inner City, as people fled it for the suburban areas for whatever reasons they deemed necessary.
2. This resulted in the tax burden in the Urban areas shifting to an on average less-wealthy group of people, who mostly couldn't afford to move out or didn't feel pressed to do so.
3. Post-Reagan era Cutbacks on our schools and libraries and other publicly funded institutions of higher learning put the squeeze on what was left of the available revenue, causing a further decline in quality.
So what conclusion should any reasonable, intelligent person make out of all of this?
Points #1 & 3 above are problems caused by Conservatives!
So get rid of Conservative solutions, and our problems will heal themselves! ;-)
Full disclosure: I actually went to a couple of Church-run schools when I was a teenager, for a year-and-a-half total. I have great memories therein. About how one of the coaching and faculty staff members was fired halfway through the year for having an affair with a student. About how the School Principle, who doubled as our Sophomore-level Bible Class teacher, threatened me once with physical harm. About how one instructor was known to say "Liberalism = Communism. About individuality-stifling school uniforms and dress codes and Anti-Rock Music attitudes. About being asked to read the autobiography of Booker T. Washington, who for some reason is the Right's longstanding ideal of what an "African-American Hero" should look like. Suffice it to say, I missed nothing when I went back to graduate from public schools.
One of those schools was Greenleaf Friends Academy in Idaho, which I went to by virtue of the fact that I had attended an Evangelical Friends Church (Quaker). Their Summer Youth Camp is where I got saved, in fact! On one time coming back home to visit family during breaks, I asked one of the kids in my youth group "Why didn't you go to Greenleaf? He responded "Greenleaf? Greenleaf is rinky-dink!" Basically there's no way he could get the high-performing science programs was at the high-school that he and I both graduated from, in different years.
Far be it from moi to accept simplistic solutions and explanations of things. That would be kinda... Conservative! ;-) I'd be remiss if I didn't leave the reader with a few links to read and decide on for themselves:
While I am by no means of the delusion that our present model of public schools doesn't need some serious re-thinking, I also am mindful of the way such things are sometimes used as political footballs. I like to lead with my head on straight, personally.