Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 15, 2011

THE RIGHT TARGETS THE EXISTENCE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS.... A few weeks ago, CNSNews' Terry Jeffrey, reflecting on the labor dispute in Wisconsin, argued, "It is time to drive public schools out of business." It's not an uncommon sentiment on the right.

To be sure, Jeffrey, despite being a regular contributor to CNN, isn't exactly an influential powerhouse in conservative circles. What's interesting, though, is that he's not the only one making comments like these. Townhall columnist Chuck Norris has begun calling public schools "indoctrination camps." Townhall columnist Bill Murchison argued this week that the American middle class has pulled its support for public education.

And campaigning in New Hampshire, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who's homeschooled his seven kids, wasn't subtle about his disdain for the American institution.

...Santorum took a swipe at public schools. "Just call them what they are. Public schools? That's a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools," he said.

Santorum added that the Head Start program is a Democratic conspiracy to bring "more children out of the household" in order to brainwash and "socialize" them. (By most modern standards, these are the kind of remarks that would bring a presidential campaign to a humiliating end, but by today's GOP standards, it's just Tuesday.)

Regardless, all of this comes against the backdrop of Republican governors slashing funds for public schools, and even the reinvigoration of the school voucher movement, which has been largely dormant for years.

Given all of this, conservatives in general, and the Republican Party in specific, is positioning itself as being actively hostile to public schools, which the Americans mainstream still holds in high regard. If Dems are lucky, this will become an even bigger issue leading up to the 2012 elections.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Is there ANY rationale for this other than re-segregation and making our populace so ignorant they can't see a dictator-wannabe in the making?

Posted by: jjm on March 15, 2011 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The hard-core right wing has wanted to close down public schools for decades, and Scott Walker's budget address is the most obvious attempt by an elected official to get the job done. Apparently nobody thinks society gains from quality education available to everyone.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on March 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

And those damn public libraries -- I bet they'd be more efficient if you had to pay market price for every book you checked out. Why should poor people get to borrow books for free? Is it some sort of government-sponsored Literate Action Program?

*waits for Megan McCardle to make the identical argument*

Posted by: Tom Allen on March 15, 2011 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Because the first thing Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison, and the rest of the Founding Fathers did was create private school systems, private banks, and a military based on mercenaries and contractors.
Oh, and a 'house' religion!
Almost forgot that.

jjm,
"Is there ANY rationale for this other than re-segregation and making our populace so ignorant they can't see a dictator-wannabe in the making?"
SATSQ:
NO!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 15, 2011 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

The American Taliban, wrapped in the flag and on the rise.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on March 15, 2011 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

The headlong rush of corporate enthusiasm has lowered its sights from mediocrity to something more useful in a monarchy .
There can be use for distinguishing a matter if it only requires , Kings property , not of the the King .
It worries me though , because if the existence of something can be proven to be , not of the King , why would that by itself be considered anything other than a profanity ?

Posted by: FRP on March 15, 2011 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

My friend thinks I'm crazy when I say Republican leadership want to de-fund public schools and eliminate them all together.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on March 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's really oppressive.

I drive down a government funded road to a government maintained beach and then walk in a government funded park, subconsciously absorbing the Democratic Party inspired indoctrination that the government is doing good things for me.

The roads should be handed over to the Lehman Brothers who will run it as an efficient and lean business of a toll road. Bear Stearns should be revived to maintain the beach. And Exxon, with its unique skills in keeping our environment safe, should be managing the park.

Posted by: samsa on March 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK
Santorum added that the Head Start program is a Democratic conspiracy to bring "more children out of the household" in order to brainwash and "socialize" them.

All children need to be socialized. Does Santorum not know what "socialization" means? He probably meant to say "in order to brainwash and socialistize them."

Do the right-wingers have a problem with the word "social"? The ones who use Facebook and Twitter are engaging in social networking; are they aware of this? And what about church socials?

Posted by: navamske on March 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Your vision is limited. They don't want just schools, they want the whole thing. They want to privatize the schools, -- and the police, and the fire department, electricity, gas, water, national parks, libraries, and anything else they figure they can profit from. They want to own the whole thing and rent it back to us and squeeze us for every penny we have. The richest 400 people who already own half of this country figure they can own it all.

Posted by: patrick II on March 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, in the coming plutocracy there won't be much need for anything but very basic education (readin' writing' and a little 'rithmetic) for the masses. And, if the Santorums of the right have their way, that education can be done by women kicked out of the work force and sent home to be as barefoot and pregnant as god depended.

So we'll only be talking about schools for the elite, and those most certainly won't be public schools.

Posted by: K in VA on March 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

And since Santorum sponged off the public school district that I attended (and where my mother is still a taxpayer) I would like to remind everyone that Little Ricky defrauded a public school district of close to $100,000 to "home school" his children before the district finally told him that merely "owning" a house in the district did not qualify for direct taxpayer assistance for his children, who lived in a mansion in Fredericksburg, Virginia (where we don't have such boondoggles and if you home school you do it on your own dime). In a fairer world Little Ricky should have a felony conviction.

Froth. Santorum. Froth. Santorum. Froth. Santorum.

Do it every time so Google never forgets.

Posted by: Barbara on March 15, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

WOW. I read Matt Taibbi's article in the current Rolling Stone on the banksters getting off scott free -- echoed by Krugman in yesterday's NYT op-ed -- then I linked to Rachel Maddow's piece on our very own Gov. Snyder's plan to privatize cities in Michigan (selling off the right to govern financially distressed areas after taking over and disbanding the local government). It all fits together - outlaw unions, defund public broadcasting, dumb down our populace with an attack on public schools of all things -- we'll be really great sheeple for the plutocrats who really own and run us all. Holy shit. Pardon my French, but I was just about to buy "Inside Job" and now I'm afraid I might just stroke out if I do. Thanks, Tea Partiers -- now I want MY America back. I'm relatively young and I feel like I don't recognize this place. WOW.

Posted by: RR on March 15, 2011 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing in the constitution about free public education. The Republicans are on a roll for sure.

Posted by: edr on March 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

He 'cyber-schooled' his kids and had the PA school pay for it. Which is probably all for the better, since Little Ricky (and I assume anyone dumb enough to marry him) aren't qualified to teach a dog, let alone children.

The deceit and hypocrisy is just nauseating.

Posted by: Captain Obvious on March 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Coming to a town near you (already there?): Gated communities, with private security, private education, and armored limos to carry the breadwinner to his place of "work".

Please tug your forelock as he passes by.

-Or sing along with the brave civilians in Rick’s Cafe:

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons
Marchons ! marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

For those whose (public) high school French is rusty, you may use your native tongue.

To arms, citizens,
Form in battalions,
March, march!
Let impure blood
Water our furrows!

Posted by: DAY on March 15, 2011 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

David Brookes knows the difference between Metis and Limerence , and why it is of little to zero matter that the reactionary anti American right becomes irrational at the sound of the word Social . It is a mere trifle to connect the rationale of demonising any reasonable connection to Social . A new word will crop up when far seeing avatar Frank Luntz has a moment . In the meantime just think of the fun the anti American right has had demonising anything to do with Liberal .
As for why adopting mental incapacity over a healthy and responsible nature is still attractive , it probably has more to do with the confusion Brookes and his ilk have with segregating conscious and subconscious matters . For the right wing nihilist , deliberately confusing social with socialist is a largely a matter of subconscious irresponsibility . Something a defective and hostile attitude can rationalize before breakfast . Consciously choosing to call it a subconscious oversight helps keep the dishonesty honest .

Posted by: FRP on March 15, 2011 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"indoctrination camps" indeed. I love how the right always accuses the left of what THEY are trying to do. In my political circles we call them 'peckerheads'...

Posted by: SYSPROG on March 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. According to Santorum's Wiki page, almost his entire education was at public institutions, (I'm not sure what the status of his law school is), his father worked for the VA. Without government, how would two generations of the Santorum family have put food on the table? I guess his few years as a shill for private industry has shown him 'the light.'

Posted by: bos'n on March 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

cutting school budgets is big TeaParty politics at the state level, just check Texas.
The GOTP wants an ignorant public for obvious reasons, it also wants worker bees, not engineers and scientists. It also does not want the swelling Hispanic population to become an educated Hispanic Majority which votes in their best interests,i.e. Democratic.
So - get rid of school budgets - viola! dumb citizens of all colors.

Posted by: T2 on March 15, 2011 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is working fast and furiously on creating a two tier society - The Party members, and the proles! -Eric Blair (Kevo)

Posted by: kevo on March 15, 2011 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Getting rid of "government" schools has been a meme on right-wing talk radio for years (see: Neal Boortz). Our now retired local rightwing gasbag always referred to them as "public screwls". They are such a clever and original lot, no wonder they don't need no education.

Posted by: martin on March 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican party has vowed to allow the fascistbeliefs of the KOCH BROS et al. Anyone who vows to destroy AMERICA'S DEMOCRACY by supporting a fascist government should be charged with TREASON. Fascist/Republican government does not want individual thinking. That is why the Republicans keep re-writing history; try to re-write the US CONSTITUTION; stop AMERICANS from Voting so that the government can tell AMERICANS what to know and what Americans can and cannot have. COMMUNISM and FASCISM (corporatist) are supported by Republicans & lobbyists. Destroying America's education will provide the ingnorance of people the Repulicans want so they can continue to rape and pillage our FREEDOMS!

Posted by: ML Johnston on March 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I have to agree - what's the point of publicly-funded education when children can be put to work?

They can be paid a lot less than adults and they can fit in smaller places.

Posted by: karen marie on March 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Charters basically do no better, on average, than public schools and may do worse. Many of them are just McSchools. It's a meme that's easy to make, but journos seem to have this misplaced faith in charters.

Posted by: Rich on March 15, 2011 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yet another important public institution under attack from the Tea Partyers! I wish they'd stop trying to force their Tea Bagging ways upon us decent folks! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 15, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

It does not matter that Charter or Private Schools do no better than the Public Schools.

If everyone has a free choice to go to any school that he or she wants, the only person to fret about the quality of the education is the one who receives it. If the person determines the quality of the education that he receives to be poor, he will go to another school. Just like the elitists who do not like the burrito at Taco Bell go to some other Mexican place.

The constitution does not guarantee the right to a burrito that you like. So it goes for education.

Posted by: samsa on March 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

U.S. government schools lag much of the developed world in educating children.

A key problem is the union labor monopoly that faces each school district. The unions fear competition of any kind.

Personally I would like to see the abolition of government schools over a period of time, but effecting this change all at once would be overdoing it.

More vouchers, and more development of a track record for free-market schools, would seem to be good ideas. The unions -- and their bought-and-paid-for Democrat politicians -- of course would fight such efforts tooth and nail. The last thing the union teachers want is competition.

BTW, it was hilarious to see some of the signs carried by Wisconsin teachers who went AWOL from work. How, exactly, does one learn proper English from an illiterate instructor?

Posted by: T J Symanski on March 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Can't you just feel the age of enlightenment flickering?

Posted by: beep52 on March 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

The conservative assault on public education was predictable from the day that the SCOTUS ruled on Brown vs the Board of Education.

Not that conservatives are racist, of course. They just want what is best for the nation.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 15, 2011 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ah samsa, you're not understanding the plan. People are told that they have free choice. What they aren't told is that the Schools will also have a free choice of who to accept.

You'll take what your given in the new authoritarian corporate american order. If you don't like it, you can sit on hold forever with a customer service team trained not to help you.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on March 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I have been telling you for a long time that we don't need any public schools.

Public schooling is a waste of OUR money. If we the wealthy need to have children educated beyond those those of the wealthy and the middle class, we will select which ones are. The only middle class that we want to continue in existence is that that provides for our needs. We will see the remainder of today's middle class shrink into virtual non-existence.

Any other money spent on education is wasted. The growing lower classes should understand that their children belong in the fields and in the factories and in other gainful employment where they can add to our wealth and not waste it!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hey T J Symanski - Does your broad stroke opinion about public education have room to realize not all teachers are Democrats, and not all teachers are members of a union? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

All conservative objections to public spending boil down to "it benefits the wrong people".

Posted by: DelCapslock on March 15, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The American Taliban, wrapped in the flag and on the rise.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle

Don't forget the cross.

Posted by: Cha on March 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Santorum is despicable--labelling public schools "government-run" schools is merely an attempt to demonize public education.

The move to eliminate funding for public schools isn't really all tha surprising. Many of the more extreme members of Congress send their children to private schools or home=school their kids. And I suspect that most of the legislators who come from the South went to private schools established in the wake of desegration.

Posted by: DRF on March 15, 2011 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, abolish public education.

Now, how are you going to come up with enough vouchers to educate the children?

It is not realistic to assume that home-schooling makes for superior students.

Part of schooling is the social aspect, it is a hard task to have 80 2nd and 3rd graders line up for recess without major kick fights, name calling etc.

But children who learn to curb their impulses (most of the time) are generally more socially accepted versus brats and bullies.

I know public schools are asked to do too much, but destroy the very concept of a free and public education?

Dumb.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 15, 2011 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

U.S. government schools lag much of the developed world in educating children.

Thats a pretty serious troll , the reason you have no support for that "claim" is because there is none .

The unions fear competition of any kind.

Piffle and Projection

Your personal desire to replace Public Schools is a profoundly sick one , as it has no rational basis .

The last thing the union teachers want is competition.

You are a twit .

BTW, it was hilarious to see some of the signs carried by Wisconsin teachers... How , exactly , does one learn proper English from an illiterate instructor?

Yes I saw the signs , did you ?

Posted by: FRP on March 15, 2011 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

You know what? I've been warning about this for a few years and everyone told me "that's crazy."

I hate being right about this stuff.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on March 15, 2011 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

My friend thinks I'm crazy when I say Republican leadership want to de-fund public schools and eliminate them all together.

Hey, mine too!

Posted by: fourlegsgood on March 15, 2011 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

About 10 years ago I was re-certified in Scuba Diving with two home schooled teenage brothers. they didn't know how to play follow the leader and nearly started a fight between themselves between 30 feet underwater. I wasn't impressed by their maturity.

Posted by: Jamie on March 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

I mentioned this very thing on this board a few years ago, and was told I was crazy. Nothing seems to have changed, except that it seems there's more evidence that I was right. Which is no comfort.

Posted by: Mike on March 15, 2011 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Your vision is limited. They don't want just schools, they want the whole thing. They want to privatize the schools, -- and the police, and the fire department, electricity, gas, water, national parks, libraries, and anything else they figure they can profit from. "

Exactly. And when the idiots who support them don't like how much they have to pay to drive on the privatized roads, and how poorly they are maintained, what are they going to do??? Not drive on the roads??? Or vote the corporations out??? How- there's no government to vote out. What colossal stupidity.

Posted by: James G on March 15, 2011 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Governor Walker would start privatizing the University of Wisconsin's two flagship doctorate-granting campuses. Ironically, the land grant universities - of which Wisconsin has long been among the best - were created by protectionist 19th-century Republicans as an alternative approach to British free-market doctrine, which dominated the prestigious and largely anglophile Ivy League universities.

Weird.

Posted by: Kill Bill on March 15, 2011 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

"The growing lower classes should understand that their children belong in the fields and in the factories and in other gainful employment where they can add to our wealth and not waste it!"

Don't forget war. Lots needed for war. Good for war.

Posted by: James G on March 15, 2011 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Exxon has always done everything better and cheaper. Why gas prices have done nothing but go down in price since I was a kid.

/dripping sarcasm

Posted by: Kill Bill on March 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of war do you remember when Halliburton won world two by defeating those Germans?

Oh. Wait. It was a government run, a public military that did that.

Posted by: Kill Bill on March 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

You said:
..."Rick Santorum, who's homeschooled his seven kids"

I don't think Rick Santorum spent much time in the school room with his kids, my guess is Rick Santorum's seven kids were homeschooled by their mother or someone hired to do the job.

Just a guess.

Posted by: KJ on March 15, 2011 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

A key problem is the union labor monopoly that faces each school district

I don't know what country much less what planet you live on, but in this country each school district does not have a union monopoly. Many states limit the terms and conditions around which unions can bargain and how much influence they have on tenure and curriculum, and further, five states do not allow teachers unions at all. And guess what? The students in those don't perform any better than in non-union states.

In fact, in general they perform nearer the bottom of the ranking of the fifty states.

The reality is that educational outcomes have almost nothing to do with whether students are taught by union or non-union teachers and much more to do with culture, demographics, and family involvement. The unions, however, do prevent petty tyrants in the form of egomaniac principals and unlettered school boards from turning the school system into some kind unique dystopia based on their own queer idiosyncasies.

The unions fear competition of any kind

Is that true? Then why do the two largest teachers, the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers support charter schools?

Whoopsie!

govermnent schools abolished

"Government schools" are simply public schools that happen to be funded with tax dollars. And while subject to general laws and regulation, these are run as wildly different from one another as are private schools or private companies, for that matter, from school to school, district to district, state to state and region to region.

And as for your masturbatory desires about the abolition of public schools that appear to spring from nothing but your Teatardation and hatred of liberals, Thomas Jefferson would disagree with you, given that he was one of the first to suggest the idea of public schools. As would George Washington, who supported the idea. As would I'm sure the millions of Americans who've graduated from public schools and become doctors, lawyers, astronauts, wealthy, well-educated, and productive members of society since the mid-19th century.

And if in your little fantasy unions are the problem, then why do public schools need to be abolished if not all districts or states have unions?

Because you weren't aware of that fact when you spouted off, that's why, not to mention the fact that you're a retard.

More vouchers, and more development of a track record for free-market schools, would seem to be good ideas

Well no, since 1) the preponderance of studies, 2) the authoritative study, and 3) the meta studies on charters schools all show that at best they perform barely just as well as public schools, and depending on the study and/or the schools/regions in question charter schools perform worse than public schools.

Whoopsie again!

And in reading you acknowledging the accomplishments of higher education I can only guess you are unaware of the fact that academic faculties at colleges are often unionized.

Oy fucking vey.

Your "opinions" on this matter are a tissue of just so much bullshit, completely untainted by facts and driven by emotion and prejudice.

If only you'd tried harder in school instead of projecting your own shortcomings onto teachers.

Posted by: trex on March 15, 2011 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Is there ANY rationale for this other than re-segregation

Funny you should mention segregation--that's the last time there was widespread talk about ending the public school systems. A number of southern states very loudly discussed simply disbanding public schools if they couldn't be run entirely without federal interference (albeit WITH federal $$$). The official "plan" was to offer blanket accreditation to any private educational entity, and/or let the feds bear the burden of setting up a public school system from scratch.

The point being, it was pure posturing. Nobody in charge on either side imagined they'd ever do it. It was just a way of whipping up the base: vote GOP/Dixiecrat and let that Yankee Kennedy (or that traitor Johnson) know where he can stick his desegregation orders.

I'm guessing this is where it still is. The only problem is that the base--they call themselves Teabaggers now--is harder to rein in when the point has been made, and the conservative elites are somehow dumber and less patriotic than they were in the 60s.

Posted by: Matt on March 15, 2011 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

According to this NYT article, privatization at major public universities is already underway:

The share of all public universities' revenues deriving from state and local taxes declined to 64 percent in 2004 from 74 percent in 1991. At many flagship universities, the percentages are far smaller. About 25 percent of the University of Illinois's budget comes from the state. Michigan finances about 18 percent of Ann Arbor's revenues. The taxpayer share of revenues at the University of Virginia is about 8 percent.

"At those levels, we have to ask what it means to be a public institution..."

Posted by: beep52 on March 15, 2011 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ooops... forgot to add that aforementioned NYT piece is from October 2005.

Posted by: beep52 on March 15, 2011 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Privatization.

Its a f**king diseases.

We've privatized our wars in Iraqistan, now it's time to completely privatize the whole f88king country, so help us god, ketchup is a vegetable, amen.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 15, 2011 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly