Wednesday, May 10, 2006

To Destroy Public Education, part 1: Die Monster Die

The following article appeared

Public education is one of those phrases that is now almost exclusively used in combination with the word "reform". Unfortunately, by the time something is so screwed up that the sheep realize that reform is necessary, it's too late, and the only satisfactory remedy is to destroy the thing and start over (or leave it behind and create an alternative, like the Puritans who originally set out to reform the Church of England, then gave. All new hope comes from despair, the death of old hope). Since systems tend to perpetuate themselves (actually most of them don't, but the successful ones are the ones that do, and that's what we're left to deal with), there is much more resistance to this than would seem to be warranted by the possible negative consequences of replacing the system, considering the supposed purposes of the system and whether it has ever filled these purposes better than an entirely different system (or no system at all) would. Even such a no-brainer as abolishing the Department of Education is considered too controversial for a politician to even mention, even though no one has ever gone so far as to come up with a reason for it to exist in the first place (Maybe there was something, I think it had to do with Sputnik...).

Next to the table I type on is a pile of books, topped with one by Major General John Stanford (foreword by Albert Gore),
subtitled "We CAN Give Our Children Excellent Public Education" (OUR children? Never mind). It is not made clear therein exactly why it is so important that education be public as well as excellent. One of the noteworthy premises of the book is that public schools ought to be run as if they were private enterprises. I've never been entirely clear about the meaning of the phrase "begging the question", but if that isn't it then it isn't a very useful expression.

The burden of proof is placed upon those who would eliminate public education, although it belongs on those who defend it, since what they defend is expensive, and their position concerning it is affirmative (this is why someone on trial is considered innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor is saying that he DID do something. That he DID NOT is a negative statement, so it does not have to be proven.) When one tries to figure out why some feel public education is the only possible answer, one is almost forced to guess.

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