Saturday, May 10, 2008

What should we call schools run by the government?

David W. Kirkpatrick's recent column What Are "Public" Schools? challenges us to reconsider just what label we use when referring to schools run by the government.

The working definition of words is ultimately whatever is most widely accepted and virtually everyone uses "public schools" to mean the current government owned and operated system. Government owned and operated is, by definition, socialism but to say so upsets the education establishment. A few persons have begun to use the term "government schools" as being more accurate.
To this many in the school establishment vehemently object. Like a character in Alice in Wonderland they want words to mean exactly what they say. They realize that to speak of "public" schools is more effective than to talk about "private" schools, especially when attempting to persuade taxpayers to foot the bill for them.

I will start using the phrase "government schools" more often in the blog.

He continues with:

Yet this was not preordained. As Milton Friedman pointed out, government uses tanks, planes and ships but does not own factories that manufacture them. Similarly, it uses private construction companies to build public buildings and highways. Yet somehow it eased into owning and operating an education delivery system even though that required overcoming strong public opposition, a history that has long since been forgotten, if ever recalled at all.. Private institutions which died did not do so because they didn't work but because they couldn't compete with a publicly funded "free" monopoly.

I like the thought at the end of the column:

"Americans, with our supposed love of freedom and democracy, never question the right of the state to proselytize children. That to me is one of the great affronts to human liberty."
Gore Vidal, p. 44, MM Interview, pp 62-70, Tom Wicker, Modern Maturity, April-May 1994

Technorati tags: government schools, public school, public education, education


Sebastian said...

I find this is similar to the discussion over political campaign financing. Somehow we've gotten to the point where getting a check from a government entity to fund an activity is public but collecting money from friends, associates and other like minded people is somehow not representative of the public.

NerdMom said...

I will join you in the "government schools" referencing. Let's start a movement;)!

Crimson Wife said...

I typically use the phrase "government-run school" because I don't feel that the general public truly has much say in how they are operated. Just look at the whole brouhaha over SB777 here in CA. If that particular bill were put on a referendum, I doubt that the majority of voters would've approved it.

Anonymous said...

This article is funny to me, because just last week, as I was blogging, I couldn't bring myself to call them public schools anymore. The term government schools really does say what they are. They are no longer in public control.
I will be calling them government schools from now on too.

Henry Cate said...

Calling them "government schools" helps to frame one of the big issues many homeschoolers have.

Eric H said...

I have used the term "government schools" for quite a while, but am beginning to lean more toward "educational welfare system".

Henry Cate said...

"educational welfare system"

Cool term!