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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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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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To: Cathryn Crawford
And sorry for my earlier comment. Sometimes I get too defensive. Our schools aren't perfect but the parents here (me included) work hard to make them as good as we can.
51 posted on 09/26/2003 9:54:54 AM PDT by kegler4
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To: honeygrl
"Another question: What percentage of parents would actually be *willing* to do it?"

I couldn't at this point. My daughter is taking calculus and college-level biology, neither of which I could even begin to deal with.
52 posted on 09/26/2003 9:56:49 AM PDT by kegler4
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To: honeygrl
Yes, that "one and only thing" is quite something isn't it. That's why I'm also against the faith-based initiative.

Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly.

53 posted on 09/26/2003 10:08:46 AM PDT by attagirl
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To: Scenic Sounds
It would be very useful if to define EDUCATION!

I have monitored the results of statewide testing (public schools only - the State of New Jersey does not test private schools) for about 15 years. The Education industry is sucking billions of dollars out of the public cash register every year to feed their appetite with no sign of any abatement. The results of their own tests show that educating students is not a principal goal.

I have asked many people, including educators, administrators, and legislators to define education and more than half of them told me that it is the red brick building down the street!

As long as the public swallows the tripe of "IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN", the situation will only continue to deteriorate!
54 posted on 09/26/2003 10:12:36 AM PDT by leprechaun9
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To: Cathryn Crawford; honeygrl
Very important article

http://www.geoffmetcalf.com/qa/22792.html

55 posted on 09/26/2003 10:13:15 AM PDT by attagirl
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To: Scenic Sounds
Well Done...BTTT
56 posted on 09/26/2003 10:16:02 AM PDT by hattend
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To: leprechaun9
It sounds like you've done a lot of work in this area. I think a lot of folks are looking for alternatives.

Have you come up with any in your research?

57 posted on 09/26/2003 10:19:56 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds ("Don't mind people grinnin' in your face." - Son House)
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To: only1percent
"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."

Therein lies the crux of the situation. The School Boards SHOULD be more afraid of the parents than they are of the Teachers Union.

I know my boys teachers run and hide everytime they see me on the street lol.
58 posted on 09/26/2003 10:24:50 AM PDT by Leatherneck_MT (If you continue to do what you've always done, you will continue to get what you've ai]s got.)
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To: kegler4
Please read the article cited in post 54. I too come from a "high performing school district."

And I see a steady decline of textbooks etc. with all 3 kids (all of which were cited as "gifted and talented".

More and more videos in the classroom, more p.c. garbage (very few classics assigned), more journal writing in most classes, process over product, etc., etc., etc. (But the SAT scores have gone up thanks to renorming and reconstructing the test.)

I even found an educational technology report on our state DOE website stating the goal of "teachers as facilitators." But the dunderheads on the Board of Ed. say "it has nothing to do with us."

We just agreed on a $73 M price tag to rebuild the high school. Why so high? The computers, of course. You can't have up to date OBE without them.

BTW the parents you criticize are products of public schools, no doubt.

The schools and all the people in them are to be "transformed"--another quote from report above.

59 posted on 09/26/2003 10:28:59 AM PDT by attagirl
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To: Scenic Sounds; Cathryn Crawford
The easiest solution is to abolish the government schools and let parents pick which school services they want their child to have.
60 posted on 09/26/2003 10:29:34 AM PDT by Sparta ("General" Wesley Strangelove "Let me start World War III, vote for me as president.")
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