Monday, May 19, 2008

Another possible term for government schools

Two weeks ago I decided to start calling public schools "government schools."

I may rethink this a bit.

Paul Peterson, a Harvard Professor and Hoover Senior Fellow, argues that public schools are really an Education Industrial Complex. It doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, but it is more provokative. Paul sees many of the current problems with American Education due to unions, and to politicians who don't work towards long term results:

"Around 1970 or thereabouts, the educational-industrial complex was hammered into place: School boards gave teachers collective bargaining rights. State governments assumed greater responsibility for financing the schools. The courts instructed schools on the civil liberties of their students. Regulations multiplied. America gained a federal Department of Education. And state and federal dollars poured into the system.
"If the political and legal activity was frenetic, education itself was put on pause. Grades inflated, learning faltered, graduation rates stagnated. The mammoth, expensive, drug-infested, security-obsessed high school was better suited for incarceration than learning."

(This reminds me of a couple columns comparing schools and prisons.)

Paul Peterson writes that we need more local control, and local accountability. He ends with:

"If politicians in America attended more closely to the needs of the next generation than the interests of unions and bureaucrats, the country could use its ingenuity to create once again an educational system the world would seek to emulate. To do so, however, politicians will have to take on the education-industrial complex."

But this will never happen. Too few politicians recognize that public schools have started falling into the abyss. Too few union leaders sense that their jobs are at risk. For decades thousands of people have tried to fix government schools; for decades things have gotten worse.

The only reasonable answer now is to leave. More and more parents are pulling their children from "The Education Industrial Complex" and turning to private schools or homeschooling their children.

Maybe some day our history books will try to explain to students what this dinosaur called "public school" was really like.

(Hat tip: Harrison Scott Key)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, government schools, public school, public education, education


Kathleen said...

How right you are... Politicians will never take on the responsibility for the deplorable state our public schools system has fallen in to...
Yes, it is time to pull our children and grandchildren from the clutches of the "Education Industrial Complex".
My grandsons spent a couple of years being homeschooled by their mother before going back to the public school system for a couple of years until this past fall. At that time their mother and father took them out for a three month tour of the East Coast and southern states in their 5th wheel trailer from the people at Big Sky Rv
They returned to public school for the remainder of this school year, but are taking off again in just a few days for three months in Alaska to be followed by a year in Arizona and New Mexico while their new home is being built in rural Alaska.
If it weren't for homeschooling these boys would not have the hands on learning they have already received and will continue to receive for the remainder of their school years. Not only have they seen where our history was made, but the geography of areas that no school can show them except through books and video. All without a whole lot of government interference or political apathy.
I wish all kids could have this type of opportunity to actually live and breathe their education, but while it isn't practical for many families, I sure am thankful my own grandsons are so fortunate.

Henry Cate said...

Wow, it sounds like your grandsons are getting a wonderful education.

We find travel is a great education in a variety of ways. For example it helps expand our daughter's world view. History makes more sense to them. They are more grateful.