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The Demise of Public Education (Cathryn Crawford)
Washington Dispatch ^ | September 26, 2003 | Cathryn Crawford

Posted on 09/26/2003 7:15:43 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds

There are two issues commonly focused on by the American people at this time in our history – the war on terror and the economy. While both have to do with our everyday and contemporary survival, there is another issue that is of deep and long-lasting importance that seldom gets the attention that it deserves – the demise of the public school system in America. Public education is fading away, and while it is doing so, it is taking a whole generation of children with it. The problem lies within the very foundation of public education – the notion that education itself entails parenting and raising children instead of educating them. Instead of simply being accents of parents and families, public schools have become the families themselves, and the results have been devastating.

We are losing our unchallenged standing and superiority in commerce, industry, science, and technology to a rising tide of mediocrity. Teachers are no longer concerned with whether or not their students have a firm grasp of the core curriculum – they are more concerned about whether or not they offend someone with their curriculum. Instructors must embrace every child’s opinion – no matter how wrong it may be - in order to teach them in a politically correct manner. Teachers are taught in college to teach from every point of view, so instead of a nationalistic viewpoint, the content is more general, and students suffer from the lack of depth and detail.

Public schools are facing declining test scores, poor performance, high functional illiteracy rates, watered-down curriculum, and declining standards, and yet no one sees any correlation between these statistics and the expanded role of public schools as socialization centers. Public education has become all things to all people, and academics are suffering. It has become so focused on providing nutritional, medical, psychological, religious, and social care that it has lost sight of its original purpose – to educate. Public schools are no longer places of learning – they are set up instead to be social service centers that, according to Sharon Robinson of the American Educational Research Association, “accelerate progression toward the day when reform is guided by the joint efforts of researchers, practitioners, parents, social workers, health professionals, law enforcement officials, members of the business community, and other civic-minded citizens.”

Beyond the very important argument that the government makes a horrible parent, there is the added issue of “busyness” that has overtaken schools. By focusing on too many programs, their standards are lowered and their focus on the details of academics – science, history, and language – is lost. Instead of making sure that students have a firm foundation of knowledge, public schools are focusing on solving the social problems of the community around them. Instead of education, it has become socialization.

Is there a solution? Not under the existing structure. In a socialistic system – our current public educational structure - there is no competition; therefore there is no incentive for improvement or innovation. Public schools have a monopoly on the education market. Private and charter schools are only allowed to compete on a limited level because of high costs.

The only viable solutions that can be seen are either complete privatization of the public school system, or, barring that, school vouchers. Competition improves quality, and until we see public schools having to fight for their funding, we will see no improvement whatsoever in the educational system. When schools are privatized – when the government is no longer a factor in education – then we will see a difference; with vouchers, parents no longer are chained to a horrible district – they can take their money and children elsewhere.

Cathryn Crawford is a student at the University of Texas. She can be reached with comments at feedback@washingtondispatch.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: cathryncrawford; education; educationnews; vouchers
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Cathryn Crawford's latest!!

1 posted on 09/26/2003 7:15:43 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds
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To: ValenB4; Scenic Sounds; Sir Gawain; gcruse; geedee; DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet; Chad Fairbanks; ...

Cathryn Crawford Ping!

2 posted on 09/26/2003 7:17:11 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Adjectives! That's what I like to see! Adjectives! ;0)
3 posted on 09/26/2003 7:18:59 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (I like my women like I like my coffee - Hot, and in a big cup.)
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To: Scenic Sounds; Cathryn Crawford
A great article, very clearly laid out. Nice job!
4 posted on 09/26/2003 7:19:07 AM PDT by July 4th
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To: Scenic Sounds
Please add me to your CC ping list. Thanks!
5 posted on 09/26/2003 7:20:26 AM PDT by NCjim
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To: Cathryn Crawford
The only viable solutions that can be seen are either complete privatization of the public school system, or, barring that, school vouchers.

Giving power back to the states will solve many of the problems we're seeing today. Education would be one of them. We should study the early American educational system and understand why they did it that way, and understand why it was right. Educational control (along with a lot of other things) belongs at the township, and at worst, the state level.

6 posted on 09/26/2003 7:22:19 AM PDT by Sir Gawain
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To: Scenic Sounds
SPOTREP
7 posted on 09/26/2003 7:22:20 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Scenic Sounds
BTTT!!!!!!
8 posted on 09/26/2003 7:22:47 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: Scenic Sounds
You go, girl!
9 posted on 09/26/2003 7:24:54 AM PDT by wizardoz
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To: Chad Fairbanks
I like my women like I like my coffee - Hot, and in a big cup.

You go, guy!

10 posted on 09/26/2003 7:25:35 AM PDT by wizardoz
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To: NCjim
Please add me to your CC ping list. Thanks!

Done! ;-)

11 posted on 09/26/2003 7:30:28 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: Scenic Sounds
The problem isn't schools being public or private, the problem is irresponsible and/or powerless parents. Public schools where most of the parents are responsible, and where the parents effectively control the schools by way of a locally-elected school board more afraid of parents than of the teachers union, do just fine.

The public schools in my neighborhood outperform the local Catholic and independent schools by almost any measure. (In a 180-degree twist from the urban model, the expensive local independent school is regarded as a place where parents send lazy or discipline-problem kids who can't cut it in the demanding public school environment...)
12 posted on 09/26/2003 7:32:03 AM PDT by only1percent
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To: Scenic Sounds
there is another issue that is of deep and long-lasting importance that seldom gets the attention that it deserves – the demise of the public school system in America.

The truth alert meter reads 100% with this statement.

13 posted on 09/26/2003 7:33:07 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: Scenic Sounds; Cathryn Crawford
What about homeschooling? The government may make a bad parent, but parents make excellent teachers, certainly in comparison with the products of education colleges. And fostering homeschooling will strengthen the family. Finally, homeschooling is how most people were educated before the 19th century. (Our Founding Fathers were not the products of government schools.)
14 posted on 09/26/2003 7:36:00 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: Chad Fairbanks
"Adjectives! That's what I like to see! Adjectives! ;0)"

Wuts a adjuctiv?

15 posted on 09/26/2003 7:37:20 AM PDT by A Navy Vet (government is the problem, not the solution!)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Wonder how long it will take the public school groupies to show up and post a picture of that 14 year-old kid.
16 posted on 09/26/2003 7:38:52 AM PDT by jmc813 (McClintock is the only candidate who supports the entire Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment)
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To: Scenic Sounds
Blah, Blah, Blah.

I'm sure she has correctly depicted many schools and school districts, but many more are not like this at all. You know what the difference is? Parental involvement, not only in the schools, but with the children at home.

You can't make a broad brush statement and say that Americas schools are failing because they are not. Granted some are, and those schools are the ones making the headlines. Most schools are doing a good job educating their children.

"The only viable solutions that can be seen are either complete privatization of the public school system, or, barring that, school vouchers."

This is the proof that what I say is true. School vouchers don't do a dem thing to make schools better, but they do give a parent the option of moving their child out of a poorly performing school district, and into a better one.
17 posted on 09/26/2003 7:39:07 AM PDT by BeerSwillr
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To: BeerSwillr
You can't make a broad brush statement and say that Americas schools are failing because they are not. Granted some are, and those schools are the ones making the headlines. Most schools are doing a good job educating their children.

Even affluent suburben schools could use some copetition as there is plenty of room for improvement. Most schools are not doing a good job. Test scores are not improving at even the "best" schools. Why, becauase they are not teaching the basics because their cirriculum is chock full of PC crap that is mandated.

18 posted on 09/26/2003 7:41:40 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: BeerSwillr
By default, they make districts as a whole better. As students move away from bad schools and into good schools - through vouchers - the bad schools close, therefore eliminating our wasting money on them. In this way, vouchers do improve the public school system.
19 posted on 09/26/2003 7:42:06 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: aristeides
What about homeschooling? The government may make a bad parent, but parents make excellent teachers, certainly in comparison with the products of education colleges. And fostering homeschooling will strengthen the family. Finally, homeschooling is how most people were educated before the 19th century. (Our Founding Fathers were not the products of government schools.)

I think that homeschooling is fine if the parents are willing and able to provide it.

What percentage of kids do you think have parents that can perform that function these days?

20 posted on 09/26/2003 7:42:58 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: aristeides
I'm a product of 9 years of homeschooling, 2 of private schooling (high school), and no public school.

My parents are homeschooling both my little brothers, as well.
21 posted on 09/26/2003 7:43:22 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: jmc813
Probably not very long. They do make things interesting, though.
22 posted on 09/26/2003 7:43:57 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: only1percent
the problem is irresponsible and/or powerless parents.

I agree. What's your solution to this problem?

23 posted on 09/26/2003 7:44:40 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: Scenic Sounds
What percentage of kids do you think have parents that can perform that function these days?

Better than government school teachers? Oh, maybe 95%.

24 posted on 09/26/2003 7:44:53 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: *Education News
BTTT

read later...
25 posted on 09/26/2003 7:45:09 AM PDT by EdReform (Support Free Republic - Become a Monthly Donor)
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To: 1Old Pro
The truth alert meter reads 100% with this statement.

I agree. I've also noticed an increase in public hostility to public education. I'm not clear as to all the reasons, but it's out there.

26 posted on 09/26/2003 7:46:51 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: aristeides
Better than government school teachers? Oh, maybe 95%.

Why do you suppose they don't?

27 posted on 09/26/2003 7:47:54 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: aristeides
"Better than government school teachers? Oh, maybe 95%."

That's laughable. I wouldn't trust 95 percent of the parents
I personally know to teach my child.
28 posted on 09/26/2003 7:47:57 AM PDT by kegler4
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To: kegler4
And you trust government school teachers?
29 posted on 09/26/2003 7:49:04 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: BeerSwillr
"Teachers are no longer concerned with whether or not their students have a firm grasp of the core curriculum – they are more concerned about whether or not they offend someone with their curriculum. Instructors must embrace every child’s opinion – no matter how wrong it may be - in order to teach them in a politically correct manner."

I too can't stand these broadbrush articles. While it is true that the textbooks are PC (probably true for many homeschooling books as well) and it's also true there are public schools I wouldn't send my children to, the teachers at the publics wchool my kids attend are VERY concerned about a firm grasp of the core curricuclum. And I can tell you that they don't embrace every child's opinion, either.

This article is a pile of crap, at least as it applies (or doesn't apply) to our local school district.
30 posted on 09/26/2003 7:53:21 AM PDT by kegler4
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To: aristeides
"And you trust government school teachers?"

Every one of them? Of course not. But guess what? I make it my business to get to know my children's teachers and to monitor what they're learning. Yes, we've had some pretty mediocre ones but also some excellent ones. My children also get an education about life at home and at church. I don't leave that up to the schools.

Do you trust all of the parents you've ever met? I sure don't.
31 posted on 09/26/2003 7:57:28 AM PDT by kegler4
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To: kegler4
I wrote that article based somewhat on an education class that I am taking at my university. Remember, this is a class of mostly future teachers, and I was overwhelmed by the liberal agenda that the professor was pushing. Now, this is a woman that by her own admission spent 30 years teaching in secondary education, and she was very intent on making us understand that we must not only teach, but also be a “social services center” (direct quote) for the children. I wasn’t as surprised at her ideas – this is a liberal school – as the fact that everyone in the class except me agreed with her. And these are the future teachers. And this is Texas, not California or Massachusetts. The class went on to spend an hour discussing all the “appropriate” social programs that public schools should provide.

These aren't administrators we are discussing in this class - these are teachers.

32 posted on 09/26/2003 7:57:56 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Empower responsible parents to escape schools dominated by the children of irresponsible parents.

In other words, geographically selective but FULLY FUNDED vouchers. (I see very little value in these $2,000 per year grants; a voucher should be for the full pro-rata portion of the school budget, which will be sufficient to fund a supply of new parochial and independent school seats.)

In addition to helping poor but responsible parents, these policies will also encourage middle-class parents to move into or stay in urban areas, rather than feeling forced to move to the suburbs. This will have a variety of social, economic, and environmental benefits.
33 posted on 09/26/2003 8:01:15 AM PDT by only1percent
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To: kegler4
This article is a pile of crap, at least as it applies (or doesn't apply) to our local school district.

Read the article again... she isn't crapping on your school district or any other locally controlled district. She's taking on the public education system that is failing America as a whole.

34 posted on 09/26/2003 8:02:22 AM PDT by pgyanke (We wouldn't have to fight our War on Terror if Islam would take out its own trash!)
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To: only1percent
In other words, geographically selective but FULLY FUNDED vouchers. (I see very little value in these $2,000 per year grants; a voucher should be for the full pro-rata portion of the school budget, which will be sufficient to fund a supply of new parochial and independent school seats.)

How would you feel about a system that allowed schools to accept vouchers only as full payment?

35 posted on 09/26/2003 8:04:30 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I am way in favor of vouchers. Besides the benifits you cited, I think by moving more students to private schools the NEA deathgrip would be loosened.
36 posted on 09/26/2003 8:07:17 AM PDT by MileHi
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To: Cathryn Crawford
That inclusion class must be a real shocker.
37 posted on 09/26/2003 8:08:01 AM PDT by patton (I wish we could all look at the evil of abortion with the pure, honest heart of a child.)
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To: patton
Thankfully, it's the only one I'm taking. I'd drop it, but I have to have the hours for my scholarship.
38 posted on 09/26/2003 8:09:39 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: Temple Owl
ping
39 posted on 09/26/2003 8:12:11 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Scenic Sounds
The only viable solutions that can be seen are either complete privatization of the public school system, or, barring that, school vouchers.

In the long run, only the complete, absolute abolition of socialized education -- with extreme prejudice -- will solve the problems identified in the article. Socialism cannot work in theory in education any better than it can work in theory anywhere else -- which is why it is such a miserable failure in practice in everything it touches.

40 posted on 09/26/2003 8:14:41 AM PDT by kesg
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To: AZ GRAMMY
PING
41 posted on 09/26/2003 8:15:02 AM PDT by c-b 1
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To: kesg
In the long run, only the complete, absolute abolition of socialized education -- with extreme prejudice -- will solve the problems identified in the article.

What would that mean? Closing all public schools? Ending all public financing of schools?

Do you believe in compulsory education laws?

42 posted on 09/26/2003 8:17:47 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Thankfully, it's the only one I'm taking. I'd drop it, but I have to have the hours for my scholarship.

As quick as you are, you could take all the courses in a couple of years. ;-)

43 posted on 09/26/2003 8:20:49 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: Scenic Sounds
As quick as you are, you could take all the courses in a couple of years. ;-)

Hopefully, I'll be done by May 2005. :-)

44 posted on 09/26/2003 8:21:38 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford
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To: Scenic Sounds
How would you feel about a system that allowed schools to accept vouchers only as full payment?

I go back and forth on that.

I think that the government should do as little as possible to restrain competition among schools for the full voucher funds -- but, on the other hand, it would be an unattractive to create two disparate classes of urban voucher beneficiaries: well-off people who add $14,000 of their own to the $8,000 full-pro-rata voucher and go to the elite city private schools with private-college tuition levels, while all of the rest could only go to less-elite schools which charged little or no above the voucher amount.

I think some kind of need-sensitive system whereby a certain fraction of vouchers must be taken as tuition in full, would be best. Too large a fraction and the best schools would simply refuse to take vouchers, which would defeat the point of the system.
45 posted on 09/26/2003 8:47:36 AM PDT by only1percent
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I believe you. It is much easier to swim with the current than against it.

Please try and make an effort to get out into some of the successful school districts before school ends next summer to see how it's done. I can FReepmail you the contacts for the school district my children attend if you wish.
46 posted on 09/26/2003 8:50:22 AM PDT by BeerSwillr
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To: only1percent
Too large a fraction and the best schools would simply refuse to take vouchers, which would defeat the point of the system.

I understand your point. A lot of families really don't need help paying for their children's education. If they want to send their kids to an elite, very expensive school (which they are doing now), they would be unaffected by a system which required schools to accept vouchers as full payment because their schools would not accept them. Wouldn't that free up some resources so that kids who needed them could get larger vouchers?

47 posted on 09/26/2003 8:53:54 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Great article! The one and only thing that bothers me with the school vouchers is that I wonder what the government will do to the private schools if they get one little toe in the door. I can see them trying to regulate what they can and can't teach, trying to take religion out of them as well, and trying to "diversify" them. I could see the vouchers being their one little toe in the door too, unfortunately. Can you imagine the lawsuits when students who claim to be gay have parents who want to use vouchers to get their kid into a Christian school and the school saying "Nope"? And the way our court system is behaving these days, the school may not win a fight like that.
48 posted on 09/26/2003 9:22:03 AM PDT by honeygrl
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To: aristeides
Another question: What percentage of parents would actually be *willing* to do it?
49 posted on 09/26/2003 9:26:38 AM PDT by honeygrl
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Well, I agree that some school systems do too much in the way of social programs. I assume this happens partly because of the desire to push an agenda but I also think there's little question that it also happens because so many parents in some schools just abdicate that responsibility. I have no hard answers, but do you really think a privatized school system or vouchers will solve the problem of parents who don't care? I don't.
50 posted on 09/26/2003 9:52:26 AM PDT by kegler4
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