Why Does the Political Left Seem So Intent on Killing Public Education?

If we want to survive as a culture, public education must succeed. It’s time for a change, and Conservatives want cities to embrace true progress, and end ancient liberalism, not public education.


Recently another community voice from Shorewood asked He used a misguided historical revue to support his premise. That premise: that public education (presumably as we have it now, or under his vision or reform) is what those Puritans desired. Otherwise, why would he make such a blatant endorsement of the first colonists
for public education?

“Public education was a major goal for the early colonists.”

Clearly, he’s trying to use the Puritan arrival as a wedge to make a broader point that Conservatives are somehow contradictory in their policies and rhetoric.

He is correct. He based their entire curriculum around the Bible studies of the local church and they had a vision of hyper-local public education to increase the intellect, reasoning and understanding of the world around them. The Puritans came from among the Enlightenment, and had a profound respect for higher education. 

In his historical journey, the author strangely emphasizes some of the “South’s”
methods of focusing on family-based education and “personal responsibility,” and even more strangely emphasizes on only their men receiving education, and
even brings up race. The clear inference is that the “political right” is more like
the Southern pre-civil war-schooling methods, than they are like the Northern
states, who had to drag the Southern states

The problem I have with the entire piece is the underlying presumptions within. That the fundamentals of education had to change completely, and the principles that make an educated community great (morals, respect for law, full literacy, access to higher education, academic diversity for changing economic sectors) must necessarily change into a more centralized, more expensive, more secular, less accountable system. He makes several false presumptions while making grand generalizations about “social conservatives” (That schools should preach against abortion, and promote a single religious point of view). Really?

“One of the traditions of the American education system has been non-government interference in private and religious schools.”

Actually, the “tradition,” as accurately pointed out in the beginning of the article, was non-government interference in ANY school. Notice how he conveniently changes the terminology to appeal to our common goodness. The American tradition was that the local superintendents or municipal boards that began funding them were allowed to run their schools as they saw fit. The concept of the Federal government being involved was as strange to the first 200 years of American education as Communism was to 1940’s American politics. In fact, it was seen quite the same: anathema, corrupt, a power-play, impractical.

To conclude his piece, the author states quite presumptively:

“Whether one is a social conservative, fiscal conservative or libertarian [as though they all fall into the philosophical box he subtly defined throughout the article]; the goal of ENDING public education holds the promise of ending liberal influence once and for all. [Hmmm… Way to make an argument for it!] That is the real goal of the privatization movement. [What “privatization movement?”] But, if they are successful, I don’t think they are prepared for the unintended consequences. Without a doubt, taking American education back 200 hundred years would be devastating.”

The author abruptly (and awkwardly) ends his article, and I believe it is not a mistake. Rather than explain WHY that would be devastating, or surmising what those “unintended consequences” might be, he ends the conversation with an implied “Selah” moment, as though he just said something completely true, completely devastating and completely irrefutable.

Here’s my take, and yes, I believe I speak for the VAST MAJORITY of Conservatives (social, fiscal, libertarian, or whatever other subcategories one can define) when I say public education isn’t fundamentally wrong. The status quo is what we take issue with.

Why is the political left seemingly intent on KILLING public education? Their policies do not foster economic success, so it would seem logical to deduct that they would not foster educational success. The political left has had a virtual monopoly on public education for at least 60 years, and the influence goes back well over 100 to the time of John Dewey and Horace “the state is the real sponsor/god-parent of the child” Mann. Why do I believe the political left is killing public education? Because they insist on protecting and merely adjusting the policies of the past. The recipe for death is doing the same thing over and over, and society in general shows the fruit of such policies. The “proof is in the pudding,” so to speak:

The testing, the curriculum, the general hiring practices, and even the food regulations are increasingly fitted to federal standards. Even the moral standards, never intended by the founders, have been nationalized. Lawyers from across the country can take a local district to court over their science curriculum.

Because of increasingly more expensive education, state- and federal-funding is a huge portion of public school revenue. This means the local district loses autonomy and must submit to the strings inevitably attached to all funding sources. The money comes from somewhere, why must it be laundered through D.C. or the state Capital first?

Most public schools are the only choice local parents have, and public funds are only for those neighborhood schools the government has built. About a dozen states have opened up voucher and charter programs to increase competition for students, but like any industry, protected markets become wasteful, inefficient and suffer decreasing results. Yes, it seems cold, but so are is the reality of a bad education.

The advent of public unions in the mid-20th century changed education for generations. Education was relatively cheap. Retirement was seen as a personal responsibility. Health care was reasonably affordable. Tax revenues were plentiful in a rapidly growing, young superpower. Today, public-sector union membership outnumbers private-sector for the first time in history. These public teacher unions make tenure, shallow-evaluation, no-merit pay, and political power more important than results.

Local schools, possibly for reasons of practicality and scale have become more centralized, reflecting more the diversity of entire communities, rather than individual neighborhoods. Now, instead of local schools reflecting the morals and principles of the parents in the neighborhood, they are forced to be as amoral as possible. Morality is offensive because it says some things are wrong. Rather than parents working hand-in-hand with local schools and teachers in supporting universal values, the schools are forced to become gray slates where the only absolutes are math, language and science. Oh, and tenure.

The problems in education are many, and the solutions are complex. And they usually involve parents as much as systemic solutions. But parents must have a system they believe in. This is the very reason the federal government must be banned – and in some cases, state government – from ALL local education. In nearly any organization or industry, most decisions must be made as locally as possible, near the source of the problem. This is, in fact the philosophy of the “political right;” running public education like a business as much as possible means it operates better and achieves better results. The “political left” has so badly demonized that process that they cannot possibly tolerate such practices in education, their fortress of power. 

But how can one argue with the results? Anyone who believes in free markets and the right of us all to enjoy life, liberty and ownership of property should be consistent and see the benefit of this in the education industry.

Is public education a physical school location, or the education of the public? The answer should tell you what side of the spectrum to which you belong. Progressives have ruled the debate by mastering the language we use, and creating the meme. Conservatives believe the local community should promote the education of the public. Liberals believe the local unionized school district should educate the community. Therein lies our difference.

Education is an industry, no matter how slice it. But is it protected industry, or competitive? The America of 200 years ago, which the author initially praised, then later reviled, was actually quite static. But it was local. Operating public education like the industry that it is, logic would lead you to believe that results would improve, quality would improve, and yes, even market share would improve. Ergo, public schools would likely grow, not end.

Conservative policies are, in fact, more “progressive” than our Progressive (liberal) counterparts’ outdated ideas. Imagine that! Rather than trying to bolt the wrong tire on a different part of the car as most liberal “reforms” effectively do, Conservatives want to reinvent the car, not the wheel and make it run more efficiently. Conservatives believe in education, for all races, genders and economic tiers. Yeah, imagine that! Conservatives believe in our schools, locally-funded, locally-educating, and locally-benefiting. Reflecting the beliefs, morals and economic needs of that local community. They believe results should dictate methods and methods should drive results.

Public schools are suffering from cultural decline, yet cultural strength and the infusion of virtue was praised by liberal “reformers” as being the very purpose of the public school system.

“Let the common [public] school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day; every pillow would be more inviolable by night; property, life and character held by a stronger tenure; all rational hopes respecting the future, brightened.” – Horace Mann

Wow - was it arrogance or just plain ignorance? Well, we’re holding them accountable, and their grade is F, and their return on investment is one of deep debt and pending bankruptcy. We, the shareholders in our children and our communities at large want the monopoly to end!

If we want to survive as a culture, public education must succeed. It’s time for a change, and Conservatives want cities to embrace true progress, and end ancient liberalism, not public education.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Randy1949 September 17, 2012 at 09:41 PM
"Under Perry's watch, Texas's — is rife with fraud and abuse of students, promising quick degrees and quality job opportunities at low prices. In reality, they more often leave students with crushing debt and bleak job prospects, ala Everest in Milwaukee making news today in closing its "college" here and leaving town." Those are glorified vocational schools, not colleges or universities. They offer 'training' in a specific skill rather than a well-rounded education. Nothing wrong with that, but if that 'degree' becomes obsolete, there is nothing at all to fall back on -- other than to go pay for another.
H.E. Pennypacker September 17, 2012 at 09:43 PM
The market forced Everest out of town, but we are plagued with the inept liberal institution of Milwaukee Public Schools with its D- GPA and 50% graduation rate. Everything a liberal touches turns to sh*t.
Bren September 17, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Stormy, please view my response to J.B.'s structurally imbalanced attempt to put me in my place. I hope he continues, because practice makes for better writing. As for the "brilliance" of Edward's "rebuttal" to Mr. Ruble, it is a shaky construct of opinion, misinterpretation, and narrow definitions at best which do not provide a logical/factual opposing viewpoint to the original. More research and objective analysis would help a great deal.
The Anti-Alinsky September 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM
That is quite a stretch Bernie. What you are ignoring is that many, many, many public schools are failing. Throwing money at the problems, like you Liberals like to do, hasn't done anything for forty years. It's time to make a fundamental change, and thanks in large part to Act 10, many districts are embracing that change!
Lyle Ruble September 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
For all interested parties, I have just responded to with a rebuttal to this blog. It is titled: A Rebuttal to “Why Does the Political Left Seem So Intent on Killing Public Education? It can be found in Local Voices on the Shorewood Patch.
Bernard Forand September 17, 2012 at 11:21 PM
@ GearHead 4:28 pm on Monday, September 17, 2012 @Dirk: The debate is about how liberal policy and unions have destroyed public education, not your sideshow (changing the subject) over who backs Perry. Who cares? Why not spend precious keyboard time refuting Willing's argument. Oh, right, you can't Bernie replies; Interesting you should ask. Now do you know what William was saying? “OR” are you just throwing out dribbles of nonsense. In your words; what was William advocating? If you can’t answer your own question then Hmmmmm.. Oh and generalization of liberal policies have been answered and rebutted. Unions giving you a problem? That laborer’s have a voice in their value to their productivity and its distributions, is offensive to you? Are you saying the corporations and governments will take care of everything just fine we can trust them to do right by their laborer’s. Are you really that naive? Now exactly what was William saying? Balls in your court…
Nick Poulos September 17, 2012 at 11:45 PM
This piece is a sad testament to misunderstanding relative to education and to what is at risk within our village, our city, our state, and our nation. The privatization of education is an awful idea. Just as some of the metrics being proposed in the Chicago strike are awful, misguided attempts to improve education. Obviously, this author has never stood before a classroom and tried to instill material, ethics, morals, and drive into students from a variety of backgrounds. Education begins at home: it needs its strength to come from a supportive home. Education requires that the TV be turned off. That same idea of turning it off applies doubly in the areas of video games, computerized role-playing adventures, and cable-presented distractions. Privatization is another way to exclude the majority. Privatization appeals to the Tea PArty and to the Randians: it cannot appeal to thinking, meditative humans. Privatization is a profit option for the Randians. It is one additional avenue for the extreme-rightists to open up so that they have a better chance of destroying America's democratic republic, under the lie of progress. The Randians, and seemingly this author as well, want to exclude as many as possible from the American ideal. What is most distressing is that some of you actually believe that any of the three R's: Rand, Ryan, or Romney are right for America. They are not right; their ideas are not right; more importantly -privatization of education is wrong.
Nancy Hall September 17, 2012 at 11:52 PM
ie, failed business man Nick Poulos cannot continue to suck at the trough of the taxpayers if Romney wins.
C. Sanders September 17, 2012 at 11:58 PM
While we wait 1-2 generations for the silly liberal utopian vision to hit or most emphatically miss the mark, another 20 years is wasted. Cling to your cave paintings, continue to exert control over your fellow cave dwellers. We'll be just fine moving forward.
Randy1949 September 18, 2012 at 12:06 AM
@C. Sanders -- Define 'silly liberal utopian vision' vision, please. And how does the conservative vision plan to change the system. Yes, I know, get rid of the teachers' unions, but then what? You think uniforms and prayer will magically teach every child to read?
Bernard Forand September 18, 2012 at 12:07 AM
The Anti-Alinsky also commented on Why Does the Political Left Seem So Intent on Killing Public Education?. "That is quite a stretch Bernie. What you are ignoring is that many, many, many public schools are failing. Throwing money at the problems, like you Liberals like to do, hasn't done anything for forty years. It's time to make a fundamental change, and thanks in large part to Act 10, many districts are embracing that change!" Bernie replies. Last 40 years? Give us all a break and come back down to earth. 28 of those years were republicans. First to cut is education with them. Example N.J. Christy first week in office fires 16,000 teachers. Social programs are always on their cutting boards. Reduction of our educators reduces quality, increases cost for less rendered. What is this crap about THROWING money? That in of itself renders your post moot. Typical republican answer we must make Fundamental changes and then Nothing gets done except to let it deteriorate some more while they distract you with a bone to chew on. While your chewing your bone the real issue goes flying by. IT’S THE ECONOMY! Its called the red herring delicacy of the moment. Here is bone with some meat on it. Think about the GAP inequality of this nation as opposed to all other nations, Observe how the inequality numbers are closely related to the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Then say GEEEEE I wonder why? What caused this inequality? Hmmmm.
The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 04:14 AM
It doesn't matter who was in charge Bernie. Throwing more money at the problem hasn't solved it. It fact it has made it worse. Conservatives have now realized that fact and understand that more money isn't the problem, education must go through a fundamental change so that all kids can benefit from it. You Liberals have yet to realize that one simple fact!
Steve ® September 18, 2012 at 04:54 AM
*crickets* All 1,753 of them
Edward Willing September 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Bernie, the socialist... What you said is historically and factually wrong. Many free markets work better without regulations. The real meaning of the word "regulation" and "regulate" was "to make regular." to make it free. The only real and legitimate regulations are those which make the market freer. And secondly I never advocated for completely free markets with absolutely no protective regulations. So you are arguing against a strawman. Since you may be obnoxious statement above that public schools are already competing against each other I won't even bother going any further..
Edward Willing September 18, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Oh and before you get all tied up in me calling you a socialist… you ought to embrace it with pride. You obviously believe in the philosophies you've espoused on this page. What you have described is by definition until about 20 or 30 years ago Socialism. Any alteration of the markets to read disburse wealth or benefit from one class to another. The degree to which it occurs does not matter. It is still socialism. Socialist started using the word progressive about 40 or 50 years ago because it worked in the past and seemed to go over better than the word socialism. ;)
Edward Willing September 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Bren, Your perspective on history and what constituted education and early America or the typical "farmer" that educated their children is so completely contrived and misguided. And when I say to stop reading your history books I am not talking about our history books. I don't read someone's interpretation of probably someone else's interpretation of the truth. I go to original sources. That is the way I was raised, and it's what I will teach my son. I loved the passive, if accidental endorsement of homeschooling that you gave, however. ;)
Edward Willing September 18, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Both of you are ignoring the truth I just rebutted your arguments with. At risk students and those with disabilities have plenty of a market if it were truly free. Of course you wouldn't know, and all of your historical evidence is flawed because there is no history for it. Learning disabilities didn't exist as an acknowledged problem, in a public school system that was truly free. It's time that liberals stop being so ancient with their methods and simply trying to reinvent the same slot machine. Conservatives want to try new things and new ideas.
Edward Willing September 18, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Bernard, we can always count on your useless rebuttals. Meh.
Edward Willing September 18, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Bren, What would help you is getting out of history books, and actually studying history.
Dirk Gutzmiller September 18, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Willing is proposing, some in code talk, of handing the schools over to private industry, along with implicit segregation, introducing religion in public schools, and control of curriculum so bad "science" like creationism, intelligent design, denial of global warming, etc. can be taught without restrictions, but at taxpayer expense. The shorthand rebuttal was he supported and was a spokesman for Rick Perry and strange and aberrant beliefs and behavior, including education!!
CowDung September 18, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Yes Bernard, we have been throwing more and more money into public education. http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/edlite-chart.html As far as your claims about Republican cuts, the page states: "Under the president's proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2006, 65 percent of the U.S. Department of Education's elementary and secondary school funds would go to help schools with economically disadvantaged students (ESEA, Title I) and to support children with disabilities (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], Part B, Grants to States). If the president's FY 2006 request is enacted, the increases in these programs over the past five years will have substantially exceeded any previous increases over a similar period since the programs were created."
Randy1949 September 18, 2012 at 04:08 PM
@Anti-Alinski -- What is this 'fundamental change' you propose? It sounds like you want a form of educational triage -- decide some children simply aren't educable, chuck them out of the boat, and let them sink.
Bernard Forand September 18, 2012 at 04:50 PM
@ Edward Willing ; Why Does the Political Left Seem So Intent on Killing Public Education?. Conservatives want to try new things and new ideas." Bernie replies; I see that not only do you NOT want people reading books. {History}, for YOU do not believe in them. Now you want to change words definitions. Dictionary is no longer on your menu? That is banned as well? This speaks volumes about you. Number one} Conservative defined; con·ser·va·tive 1. reluctant to accept change: in favor of preserving the status quo and traditional values and customs, and against abrupt change 2. of conservatism: relating to, characteristic of, or displaying conservatism 3. cautious and on low side: cautiously moderate and therefore often less than the final outcome Several hundred dollars is probably a very conservative estimate. 4. conventional in appearance: conventional or restrained in style and avoiding showiness, a conservative suit 5. using minimum medical intervention: designed to help relieve symptoms or preserve health with a minimum of medical intervention 1. traditionalist: a supporter or advocate of traditional ideas and behavior 2. supporter of conservatism: somebody who believes in or supports conservatism Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Get the drift there buddy boy? Sound familiar? Now lets look at the definition of liberal; Go to page two;
Bernard Forand September 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
@ William PAGE TWO Bernie replies; Liberal defined; lib·er·al 1. broad-minded: tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others 2. progressive politically or socially: favoring gradual reform, especially political reforms that extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual 3. generous: freely giving money, time, or some other asset My great-aunt was liberal in her bequests. 4. generous in quantity: large in size or amount a liberal helping 5. not literal: not limited to the literal meaning in translation or interpretation a liberal interpretation of the rules 6. culturally oriented: concerned with general cultural matters and broadening of the mind rather than professional or technical study a liberal education 7. of political liberalism: relating to a political ideology of liberalism liberal person: somebody who favors tolerance or open-mindedness [14th century. Via French < Latin liberalis < liber "free"] Synonyms; See generous. Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Now does that sound familiar? No wonder I was having difficulty trying to comprehend the paradoxes of your blog. Definitions in error. Premise is incorrect. Blog is rendered moot. Advice learn to read books. Try if you can to seek quality books. Try some Noble Prize authors for a start. World is a tad bigger than your man cave.
Bernard Forand September 18, 2012 at 05:55 PM
@ Edward Willing also commented on Why Does the Political Left Seem So Intent on Killing Public Education? Bernie Replies; Deregulated markets is what destroyed our financing structures just recently. Great Recession, Great Depression both suffered due to lax deregulations. Increasing of inequality through the manipulative powers of the elitist class is exhibiting the failures of capitalism free trade. Observations of the increasing of inequality of poorly regulated capitalism is demonstrated. Some other nations that have addressed the issue. Sweden and Iceland to name a couple, that have laborer’s productivity more evenly distributed. Consider that USA is now a world leader in the highest inequality within the western civilized world. Effects of inequality runs rampant through out our financing and is affecting our health, poverty, infrastructure decay, and so on. So much more it takes; BOOKS to give it more accuracy than we can on this limited site. One I will leave you with an example of how severe our inequality effects our nations financial security. Presently 1.2% of our populace control 40% of all wealth. 1929 1% controlled 43%. Stagnating the financial sectors. Great recession was just a wake up call. Increasing inequality will trigger a more disastrous result. Historically fraudulent wrong? Simple dismissal rhetoric does not fact make. My figures are correct where in as you have provided nothing other than rhetoric.
The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Gee Randy, there a number of things that could help: How about less "busy" time where the kids are doing activities that are just meant to keep them out of trouble. I would rather have my kid out playing the re-learning something a different way that they already know. How about making student's less bored by letting students learn at their own pace. Right now instructors teach to the main part of the class, the smarter ones are bored and ones who need more help aren't getting it. How about integrating more technology into the classroom. By integrating I don't mean adding MORE, but utilizing it more effectively. At my job we test prospective employees with computerized test that adjust the test to the taker's knowledge level. By the end, we know where exactly their skill level lies. How about tying required curriculum in with the student's interests. If a student enjoys building things, a math class could be designed around applied engineering principles. Some biology is done in the field, but why not more? There are a couple ideas, and I'm not even an educator!
The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Bernie, there were a number of reasons for the Great Depression. One of them was the excesses of the 20's. When the economic bubble burst, the stock market over compensated (just like the dot-com bubble burst under Bill Clinton and the housing bubble burst caused by Jimmy Carter). By March of 1930, most stock prices had risen back to where they were in March of 1929, not an all time high, but a respectable level. What extended and worsened the depression was the government's failure to instill consumer confidence back into the public. Most of the country had been smacked real hard, and were weary of trusting anything financial. That is the problem going on right now with the Barack Hussein Obama administration. There is no confidence right now that Barack Hussein Obama is the person to fix the economy!
The Anti-Alinsky September 18, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Actually Bren, the separation of church and state was primarily a financial issue. It's primary architect, Thomas Jefferson, was tired of paying taxes to the official state religion under the king, as well as any tithing he gave to his own church. Jefferson was a confident enough man to trust in his own beliefs even when a majority of his family, friends and neighbors still belonged to the Anglican Church. Fear of being indoctrinated or converted was not an issue.
Randy1949 September 18, 2012 at 08:53 PM
So you're suggesting that education be more individualized. I'm right there with you. However, that approach might require smaller class sizes, because one teacher can't be in thirty places at once. Kids love video games. I'm sure an innovative person could come up with games that teach reading and math and made it fun. But that costs money.
Bernard Forand September 18, 2012 at 10:49 PM
@ The Anti-Alinsky 3:51 pm on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 Actually Bren, the separation of church and state was primarily a financial issue. It's primary architect, Thomas Jefferson, was tired of paying taxes to the official state religion under the king, as well as any tithing he gave to his own church. Jefferson was a confident enough man to trust in his own beliefs even when a majority of his family, friends and neighbors still belonged to the Anglican Church. Fear of being indoctrinated or converted was not an issue. Bernie replies; Anti it was an economic issue? Jefferson first tried to separate church and state was in the House of Burgess. That was previous to the revolution. England held Authority. Separation of Church to state was motivated by the abusive control and chaotic polices to support the structure within a government as Europe was demonstrating through the bloodshed and misery that the Churches were responsible for. Disruption of political ideologies further demonstrated the inadequacies in the administrating of a government, with constant turmoil’s within the various religions. Simple deduction; eliminate the Church authority. Note that battle would be finally won by Hamilton’s administration after Jefferson retired from politics.


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