Teach the Children Well
I had planned to write about something else today, but just as I started to double-check something, I came across another story I’d missed from a few days ago that I love too much. And that took precedence.
Actually, it’s sort of an infuriating story, too. The foundation behind it all. But what transpired is superb.
The background is that the Arkansas state Senate was holding a hearing on amendments to the education bill from Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A group of Little Rock Central High School students showed up at the to speak against the bill, which among other things would implement school vouchers that opponents believe open the door wide for segregation.
(I should note that Arkansas student complaint about the bill was not limited to this hearing, but there was a big walkout at the same Little Rock high school last Friday.)
However, whenever each student tried to speak at the hearing, the Republican committee chair State Sen. Jane English would shut them down, explaining that they were addressing the bill, but that had already had two hearings, so they would told that the only thing they could discuss were the amendments.
“I’m sorry, you just don’t get to talk on the bill," Sen. English told one of the students. "If you want to talk on this amendment, specifically things that are in this amendment, you’re free to do that, but you cannot speak on the bill.” It was a refrain she kept repeating to student after student.
The students hadn’t been able to attend those two earlier hearings on the overall bill because they were held (okay, make a wild guess – and yes, you’re right) during school hours. And because the bill had already passed both state house, the only comments allowed were on the amendments.
It was an infuriating, thoughtless action by English. But being high school students, used to finding ways to sneak around stupid rules by adults, they eventually figured out a way to get their points in. It was seriously impressive, and in some cases, brilliant. And all the more so when you realize that how these high school students dealt with the road blocks put up to block them was not something planned, but that they improvised and came up with on the spur of the moment.
One student, Ethan Walker, understanding that he was only allowed to talk about the amendments, not the horrible bill, said, ““I’d like to speak on the amendments, and how they do not go far enough to tear down and decimate this bill.” As Sen. English kept interrupting him, he added that, “These petty little wording rearrangements don’t do anything to address how bad this bill actually is."
Other students did much of the same. But it was sophomore Rhone Kuta who took high school cleverness to another level, almost Shakespearean – finding a way to get past Sen. English continuing to interrupted him. What he did was find a specific line on one of the pages, and as Sen. English kept interrupting him.
"Where it deletes ‘and’ and substitutes ‘or,'” sophomore Kuta said about the amendment, “the reasons I believe this amendment is bad is, this should actually say we are deleting the voucher program on section 63 because the voucher program absolutely reallocates resources from the working class Americans and Arkansans and reallocates it to the upper class.”
As he went on, Kuta continued to use language in the amendment to criticize the overall bill, in particular one part on the ban teaching anti-racism content.
Eventually, chair English cut off Kuta, said his two-minutes were up and had him leave. But other students picked up on what he had done and, as Sen. English kept trying to interrupt, called instead for even greater amendments
Senior Gryffyn May, for example, used the same tactic and said, “The amendment that says page 90, line 3, delete ‘and’ and substitute ‘or,’ is insufficient because there’s nothing that amends the clause that is talking about having school choice policies that will make it so that students who are minority groups will be left in public schools while privileged students go to private schools.”
In the end, the power of the committee won out, and the bill and amendments have officially passed. And Gov. Huckabee Sanders signed it yesterday. But I particularly like the words of one of the adults who showed up to speak. That was Little Rock School Board member Ali Noland. She told Sen. English that trying to silence the students backfired.
“By talking to them and cutting them off in this way, believe me, you are giving them much more of a platform than you would have if you had just listened to their criticism of the amendment in the first place," Noland said. "They showed up after school on their own time to tell you these amendments do not satisfy their concerns.”
In most states, educators and politicians like to say that "Children are our future." That doesn't appear as much a case in Arkansas. But then, this is the state where one of the first acts Gov. Huckabee Sanders did when sworn in was to eliminate the use of the word "LatinX" from state documents. So, in the end, this "education" bill and treatment of children isn't all that surprising.
I did find a tweet that has a two-minute video with brief excerpts of the students trying to speak at the hearing, along with Board of Education member Noland, but unfortunately I can't embed it -- however, you can watch it here.
Teach the Children
When I saw Kevin McCarthy present the Republican’s new so-called “Parents’ Rights” bill proposal – that’s largely founded on the principle that angry parents who explode at schoolboard meetings are the ones who really need protection, not the members of the schoolboard who are being attacked – I had an immediate reaction to something I’ve been posting on social media. And I was so happy to see Alex Wagner open her show on MSNBC yesterday with a similar comment.
It's how the bitter irony of all this is seemingly lost on Republicans.
The “outrage” by these angry parents and voiced by Republican officials is that parents know more about what’s best for their children when it comes to educating them than the government does. Putting aside that the schoolboard members are elected, so if you don’t like them, you can vote them out and that they are professionally-trained educators and parents are not, what leaps out is that the Parents’ Rights bill is very specifically the government getting involved with what and how schools can operate and teach.
But far more to the point, the extreme right seems to be adoring the actions by Ron DeSantis in Florida when it comes to schooling, and all of that is as government-involved in educating children as could possibly be. Creating laws about what books can be in school libraries, creating laws about what can be taught at schools that don’t make children uncomfortable, creating laws about what A.P. classes can be taught at schools, creating laws that allow the government to appoint directors of state colleges. It’s almost like you couldn’t get the government more involved with Florida schools if you tried. And the extreme right is in heaven, the extreme right is looking at Ron DeSantis as the possible man to lead their party.
Right now, I get the sense that dictionaries all over the country are fighting among themselves to determine whether “hypocrisy” or “irony” should be the first word used to describe all this.
What I liked, too, in Alex Wagner’s discussion on the subject is that she asked her guest, Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, if he thought that we had passed the point of calling things like DeSantis’s effort to control education merely “culture war” and instead saying that it was now fascism. And Cobb agree, yes, that it was.
For a long while now, I’ve been referring to it as fascism. (And explained at great length why it was.) And it’s been infuriating when I see the media and analysts calling it the more polite term of “authoritarianism.” We have no problem reporting on Republicans calling Democrats “socialists” for the past 70 years, but – “fascists” for today’s fascist Republicans? Heavens no, they’re authoritarians. It’s culture war.
So – good for Alex Wagner and Jelani Cobb. Yes, we’ve passed the point (long ago) where this can now be called fascism.
And, again, here in detail is why.
By the way, stick with this video. It's an official music video, and so you likely think you know where it's going with this 1970 song, but I suspect it will surprise you.
I’ve been pondering a thought lately and am surprised a bit that I haven’t heard it referenced by others on the news. Perhaps it has, and I just haven’t heard it – but I’ve heard the general story covered a lot.
The thought first came to mind when hearing about Gov. Ron DeSantis blocking the teaching of African-American studies for AP programs in Florida high schools. The story itself is pretty repugnant – it’s one of those incomprehensible stories that I can’t grasp not only that it’s being done, but why on earth you would want to? And by “want to” I mean on so many different levels. Why would any politician – even the most virulent racist, which for the sake of argument is a level that Ron DeSantis hasn’t reached yet, because he still has a few rungs to go – push this? Not teaching the history of a group of Americans. I can understand a virulent racist wanting to appeal to his virulent racist base, but even in the GOP and even in Florida that’s only a subset of the party, and risks offending the rest of the voting populace. Yet even if a politician is okay with that, most virulent racists tend not to want to be branded that way.
“I’m not a racist, I support all people,” tends to be the response. “I just think it’s unfair we try to help minorities as if they can’t help themselves. In fact, it’s the liberals and socialists who are the real racists because they believe that minorities need the assistance of and are unable to succeed without it.”
But even more, when someone clearly has their hopes on running a national campaign and becoming President of the United States, it’s an almost inexplicable strategy to be branded as The Candidate Who Wants to Outlaw Teaching the History of Black People. (In fairness, I’ve heard some analysts point out that while Ron DeSantis is hugely popular in Florida and polls well in the Republican Party, there is nothing that shows he would run well as a national candidate outside the state.)
Of course, the world is full of subjects that are incomprehensible to me, and there’s also some comfort in not being able to understand virulently racist thinking.
Clearly, though, this virulently racist and all-out fascist brand is what Ron DeSantis is going for. Not just with a law prohibiting the teaching AP African American Studies, but also state laws that ban books and ban teaching subjects that make students “uncomfortable” – never mind that most things taught in school, including or perhaps even especially math, make students uncomfortable. It’s even at the point where teachers in Florida can now be convicted of a felony and face up to five years in prison for recommending the “wrong” book. In fact, according to CNN, school officials in at least two Florida counties told teachers they should “box up their personal classroom libraries, cover them up or enter the books into the district’s cataloging system in order to check their approval and keep them on shelves.”
I know that most Republicans get offended when their party is called fascist today. But if they took the time to look up laws about banning books, banning school subjects on minorities, and putting teachers in prison, they’d see that these are the poster children of fascism, If only that was what offended them. Perhaps the books that would explain this are banned in Florida. The only thing missing in Florida are the bonfires of banned library books. So far.
(Another thing I don’t comprehend – why would anyone want to be a teacher in Florida, knowing that you’re at risk of going to prison if you teach something “wrong” or recommend the “wrong” book??? Even if you’re a virulent racist and like the bans, knowing that you can be convicted of a felony if you teach something “wrong” would seem to be a hindrance in pursuing the field.)
All of which lead to my imponderable thought –
The big push among Republicans these days when it comes to education is how “Parents know what’s best for their children than government,” and so we’ve seen near-riots by extreme right activists at school board meetings across the country. (Never mind that not all parents know what’s best for their children, which is a big reason by we have child abuse laws, child work laws, and child welfare organizations. Not to mention doctors who know what’s best for children more than parents.)
So, with that in mind among the extreme right – that they truly believe parents know better than the government what’s best for their children -- why are Republicans in Florida so supportive of the government there passing laws about what children can be taught and passing laws about what children can read?? By all rights, they should be red-hot outraged. Instead, they embrace it with the loving bear hug and wet-lip kiss for a long-missed relative.
I am not going to try to figure out this conundrum. Because the answer is probably closer to the lines of – It’s not a conundrum. It has nothing to do with thinking parents know what’s better for their children than the government. It’s just that they’re racist, fascist and so conversative that they just don’t want things they personally hate being taught or even existing.
But it’s still a good question to ask them, so that they can try to answer it out loud themselves.
Pompeo and Circumstance
We'll now play a game.
Yesterday, Mike Pompeo named who he considers the Most Dangerous Person in the World (and added that it's "not a close call"). You, dear readers, get a chance to guess who you think that is.
Just some perspective to help your decided.
Mike Pompeo is a former directors of the CIA. He also served as Secretary of State under Trump. So, he's seen his share of Dangerous People in the World. Literally, face to face. And from deep background.
Among the people on the list you can choose from are war criminal Vladimir Putin. Or China's Xi Xinping. Or Kim Jong-Un. Or Turkish dictator Tayyip Erdogan. Or Hungary dictator Viktor Orban whose top adviser quit by calling Orban's speeches the sort of thing you'd hear from Hitler. Or...well, pick any dictator, this is your guess, after all.
Okay, are all your votes in?
Well, to start the elimination process, no, it's not Putin, Xi, Kim, Erdogan, Orban -- or any dictator. Or terrorist. Or Trump, who Pompeo knows up close.
To Mike Pompeo, the former CIA director and former Secretary of State, the Most Dangerous Person in the World -- and "it's not a close call" -- is...
Okay, so how many of you got that right?
"Randi Weingarten???," I hear most of you understandably call out. Yes, you read correctly. Randi Weingarten.
Randi Weingarten is the head of the American Federation of Teachers!! According to Mike Pompeo (who, lest we forget, is who handed Afghanistan back to Abdul Ghani Baradar. the co-founder of the Taliban), she is the Most Dangerous Person in the World. And "it's not a close call."
Actually, it's even worse than that. And yes, that's possible. Because Pompeo -- former director of the CIA -- went on to talk about who he supposedly believed was "most likely to take this republic down.’ And to Pompeo, who actually worked closely with Trump who literally fomented an Insurrection to take this republic down -- he chose to ignore that and said, "It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing."
You'd think his throat would have immediately congealed, and his body shriveled and began shaking uncontrollably before it burst into flames, leaving only the remnants of bones and some ashes spread on the ground. But no, he was able to continue on with his pandering, fascist campaign to one day be president.
And what's so otherworldly about this is not that Mike Pompeo was so pandering extremist and fascist in his comments, but that he went so blatantly and foolishly and hyperbolically overboard that it's so easily dismissed. And that even all but the most lost and disturbed of the far-right were likely scratching their heads saying, "Who??" And upset that he didn't say "Nancy Pelosi." Or "Alexandria Ocasio Cortez." Or "Kamala Harris." Or "Joe Biden." Or "Adam Schiff." Or "Jack Smith."
Ms. Weingarten called the pandering Pompeo "desperate to be labeled an extremist" in his attempt to be elected president and said his comments were either "ridiculous or dangerous." Given that this is right out of the first chapter of the fascist playbook to undermine any other authority figures -- and this case it's schoolteachers! -- I'll go with dangerous.
But man, is it ever ridiculous. As is pandering, shameless Mike Pompeo's thought that he will be elected president.
Here's is the second of two articles (the first is here) that I wrote for the Huffington Post 11 years ago in 2011 -- and the third in my series of articles about the Republican Party's 70 year war on education. This one is appropriately titled, "The War on Education." It overlaps with yesterday's article, but has different information taken in a slightly different direction. (Honestly, at this point, a decade later, I don't recall why I wrote two similar articles seven months apart, but my guess is that there was something in the news that prompted the second one -- plus it's an observation that I think deserves to be repeated regularly.)
This all began with my article on Monday about how Trump and the GOP are now pushing their base to follow QAnonymous, something that is based on literally NOT KNOWING. Because -- as has been the case for the past 70 years -- the Republican Party has clearly determined that it's in their party's best interest to have a base that sees education as a bad thing and therefore must rely on whatever GOP party leaders tell them. And so, when you get a Trump who says "I alone can fix it" and lies 30,753 documented times during his four years in office and pushes what is literally a totally anonymous voice to trust with its made-up conspiracies, the GOP base -- which has been disciplined to distrust education and learning and knowledge -- will believe and follow whatever fascist, utter foolishness is fed them.
The other day, the Washington Post released a poll that showed, among other things, how the vast majority of Republicans believe, despite reality, that President Biden hasn't done anything. What that means is that GOP base has either blocked from its consciousness or is totally unaware that President Biden had passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (from which all Americans, including Republicans individually actually got desperately-needed money during the pandemic), the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill, the $740 million Inflation Reduction Act (which capped yearly drug costs at $2,000, capped insulin costs at $30 for those on Medicare, brought about major environmental protections, created a minimum 15% corporate tax on businesses that have long-evaded paying taxes, and much more), the first significant gun safety bill in 28 years, the PACT Act to provide health care for veterans -- and (again) much more.
And most of these bill were passed with zero Republican support.
And a vast majority of Republicans actually believe (I was going to say "think," but that seems inappropriate) that President Biden has done nothing.
Which brings us back to the point here, and this article from 11 years ago, on how the Republican Party has been working for 70 years to ensure its base sees education as the enemy.
The War on Education
December 1, 2011
Several years ago, a conservative fellow I was talking with got into a lather about a criticism he often heard. “Why is it,” he asked, “that liberals always say that Republican politicians aren’t smart?”
I politely avoided the quick answer. Besides, it wouldn’t have explained things properly. The truth is that “Republican politicians” aren’t remotely stupid. And there are plenty of Democratic politicians who are head-banging idiots.
That doesn’t mean the ball field is equal. It’s not. And conservatives only have themselves to blame for the rules they wrote and have been playing by for over half-a-century:
You Can’t Trust Really Smart People, Education Gets in the Way of Common Sense, Science is the Enemy of Religious Faith, College is for Over-privileged Elitists, Facts Matter Less Than What You Believe.
Those are the familiar rules that Republicans created. But it’s only the starting point. Because after making the rules, they played the game.
When Adlai Stevenson ran again Dwight Eisenhower for president in 1952, the big criticism that Republicans launched against Stevenson was that he was “an egghead.” Meaning, he was much too smart to be trusted.
When John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, Republicans disparaged him for filling the White House with his “Harvard Mafia.” Meaning, there were all these people so smart they were scary dangerous.
After Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he put college students high on his Enemies List. Meaning…well, that one’s pretty obvious. Especially considering that troops were later sent onto the campus of Kent State, and four students were shot dead.
In 1988, the first George Bush campaigned for president as “the education president” – yet in a speech to service workers in Los Angeles explained it wasn’t necessary to go to college. This was an absolutely valid position, but spoke volumes from a leader supposedly promoting education.
When the second George Bush was president, he trumpeted his “No Child Left Behind” program – and then under-funded it, leaving those very schoolchildren far behind.
In 1996, the Republican Party platform stood for abolishing the Department of Education.
Last year, 111 Republican senators, congressman or national candidates were on record to abolish the Department of Education.
This only touches the surface of the ground-and-air war against education that conservatives have been playing. A relentless pounding against the importance of education, to reject facts, ignore history, dismiss science. To mistrust the news media. When information is diminished, it requires needing to rely on others. It demands having faith that others will lead you safely.
Indeed, it is no accident that conservative politicians court the religious right as their party’s base. Religion is centered on belief, on unquestioning faith. And that is the path to unquestioning faith in everything.
It is no wonder that New Yorker author Ron Suskind reported a Bush White House official ridiculing those who live in “the reality-based community.”
It is no wonder that the far right dismisses the science of global warming. And when science offers the breadth of cures from stem-cell research, we saw the far right fight the science.
And it is no wonder that conservatives cry to see Barack Obama’s report card, hoping the mere suggestion will demean his impressive education that includes being elected president of the Harvard Law Review and graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.
If one doubts this, consider that you never heard Republicans demand to see George Bush’s college report card. Or called for the report cards of John McCain – who graduated 894 out of 899 students at the Naval Academy. Or insisted that Ronald Reagan release his report cards from Eureka College, where he did theatricals.
Yet Republicans made Ronald Reagan a conservative god. And it had zero to do with his education. And y’know, it didn’t even have as much to do with his conservative credentials, given how often he raised taxes, massively increased the national debt, signed a bill for amnesty to illegal immigrants and, as governor, signed an abortion rights bill. He might not be able to get past the primaries if he ran today.
Many conservatives don’t realize all these things about Mr. Reagan’s politics, but then…well, that’s the whole point of education, which teaches you how to learn such quaint things.
But when you are told for half-a-century that you can’t trust smart people and science, you end up with a party that lays itself open to a leadership vacuum.
And so, at one time or another, we get Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, a pizza guy and even Sarah Palin leading the pack for the Republican nomination. And now Newt Gingrich, who, as Paul Krugman put it, is a “stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.”
No doubt, some will be up in arms by how supposedly-elitist this all is. Of course, wanting everyone to be as educated as possible is the exact opposite of elitism.
But then, calling others “education elitists” is one of those standard, conservative rules to demean education. Which proves the point.
Which brings us back, finally, to my conservative acquaintance wondering why liberals always say that Republican politicians aren’t smart. The problem is that he was looking at the wrong thing. This isn’t a matter of who is smart. There will always be people much smarter than you, me and even the smart people. Reading about a Francis Bacon, Voltaire, Galileo, Denis Diderot or Benjamin Franklin can only make one feel breathtaking awe. Republicans and Democrats are both bright and foolish. What this is about is the intentional, driven campaign for 60 years of Republican Party leadership to intentionally downgrade the importance of education. And what results from that when a party does such a thing to itself.
In short, it’s simple: if you don’t want to be angered when your candidates are perceived as less than brilliant, then promote brilliance. Don’t make it your platform to abolish the Department of Education. Don’t claim that opinion supplants fact.
Ultimately, though, there is something far more important at issue than mere politics.
Will Durant, with his wife Ariel, wrote the legendary Story of Civilization. Eleven volumes, over 8,000 pages of discovery that remains today insightful, even-handed and remarkable. And after they finished, they put together The Lessons of History. Written over 40 years ago, in 1968, its perception is as fresh as any news headline you will read.
“Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government, since it requires the widest spread of intelligence, and we forgot to make ourselves intelligent when we made ourselves sovereign. Education has spread, but intelligence is perpetually retarded by the fertility of the simple. A cynic remarked that ‘you mustn’t enthrone ignorance just because there is so much of it.’ However, ignorance is not long enthroned, for it lends itself to manipulation by the forces that mold public opinion. It may be true, as Lincoln supposed, that ‘you can’t fool all the people all the time,’ but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”
The GOP Bored of Education
In my article yesterday (here) about Trump and the GOP pushing QAnonymous based on literally NOT KNOWING -- indeed almost taking pride in not knowing, I noted that Republicans have had a "War on Education" for over 60 years. I meant that very specifically, though since that wasn't the point of the article, I only gave a few of the most prominent example. In fact, though, I've written a couple of detailed articles in the past for the Huffington Post, both of the 11 years ago, in 2011 (so, no, this isn't anything new that just surfaced) about this pretty clear effort by the Republican Party against education
I figured it was worth posting them again, since the subject has become more prominent, with the GOP coming close to reaching the culmination of its long-held goals, pushing its base to put aside facts, the concept of questioning and relying on knowledge to instead follow the QAnon conspiracies based on literally NOT KNOWING absolutely anything about who is telling them what to believe and what their opinions should be.
Here is the first of those articles. It holds just as true today -- because it's about the history that helped lead the GOP to this point.
Every Child Left Behind
March 29, 2011
Several years ago, I had a realization: conservatives don't care about education.
It's a generalization, I admit. And sounds outlandish. Yet for the past 60 years, conservatives have made crystal clear their utter disdain for education. Hoping to convince others.
It began in 1952. When Dwight Eisenhower ran for president against Adlai Stevenson, the contemptuous attack Republicans made was that Stevenson was "an egghead." Someone who was really - smart. And you just can't trust those smart people.
In 1960, when Richard Nixon ran against John Kennedy, the Republican blast was that JFK was advised by his "Harvard Mafia." Smart people. So smart that they were dangerous. And you can't trust those smart people who go to good colleges.
When Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he hated those smart people who go to colleges so much that students made his Enemies List. And later his "get tough" policies on student dissent (including wanting the Secret Service to beat up protestors) resulted in Republican governor Jim Rhodes sending armed troops sent the campus of Kent State University -- and four "enemy" undergraduates were killed.
In 1988, George Bush claimed to be "the Education President" - yet on an campaign stop in Los Angeles told a rally of service employees that not everyone had to go to college. A valid sentiment, certainly, but for a candidate supposedly promoting education, it leaked his true feelings.
And in 2000, George W. Bush failed to fund his "No Child Left Behind" education program.
It's continued for 60 years, as conservatives have demeaned public education, pounding away at the national consciousness that learning for the masses is a bad thing to be scorned and mistrusted.
There's an understandable - and historic - reason for this, of course, because the less educated the public is, the more it relies on authority figures, rather than question anything. And the more that education is disdained, the less that inconvenient facts will be believed.
And so, instead, we get an attitude that challenges any assertion of education with a contemptuous, "So, you think you're better than the rest of us??" - conditioning people to wear with pride that they know less. In all other areas of life, we want the best. We want more riches, more success, to be faster, stronger, cooler - better at everything. Except, after 60 years of conservative pounding against education, not to be as smart as we and our children can be.
And while this conservative effort has been surreptitious over the past 60 years, it's finally released itself: open, unrelenting Republican attacks in Wisconsin against teachers - teachers, for goodness sake! - and a widespread Republican war against education.
In Florida, $3.3 billion has been cut from education over the next two years, almost 15% from the education budget to our children. While $1.6 billion has been given in corporate tax breaks.
Texas has proposed $9.8 billion in cuts in education assistance to school districts. (Bringing a loss of 100,000 jobs.)
Wisconsin cut $834 million from state aid to K-12 education over the next two years. That's 20% of the proposed cuts in the budget. And cuts to teacher pay and pensions.
We have always heard the praise that teaching is the most important job. That teachers are preparing our most precious resource, our children, for the future. How teachers are underpaid heroes. But from the other side of their hypocritical mouths, conservatives will slam teachers as lazy slackers with three months of vacation, overpaid plunderers of public pensions - and for 60 years desensitize the public for stripping away public education.
And now, they couldn't be any more clear:
Last Wednesday in Iowa, three prospective Republican presidential candidates bluntly stated their condemnation of public education at a home schooling rally.
"The public school system now is a propaganda machine," said Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). "And they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American." Like, apparently, the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It is not up to a bureaucrat to decide what is best for your children," insisted Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who home-schooled five children. "We know best." Except about U.S. history. Home teacher Bachman recently placed the cornerstone of the American Revolution - Lexington and Concord - in the wrong state.
"That's all we want," said Herman Cain, a prominent businessman testing a GOP presidential run. "For government to get out of the way so we can educate ourselves and our children the old-fashioned way." Note: "the old-fashioned way" included one teacher for six grades in one room, few women and minorities, and teaching math with an abacus.
But it was left to the event's host, Justin LaVan, to explain plainly how so many conservatives truly see education. "Talking about our Creator. Our rights that came from our Creator, acknowledging that and giving Him the glory." Of course, that's why God invented church. For educating children to succeed in a global community where others are learning science, history and geography, it's a disaster. If prayer worked in school, every kid would get straight-A's.
And in the end, that disaster is what conservatives have long wanted from education. No need to learn anything. No public education. Just private schools and home schooling. Which is the end of an educated nation.
Private schools limit education to those who can afford it. Home schooling limits education to families where one parent can afford to stay home. While hoping that the parent completed high school.
This is known as every child left behind.
But for conservatives, that's okay. The wealthy and privileged will get their children a great education. And the rest of America? You're on your own.
Public education is what helped make America the envy of the world. A nation of well-informed citizens. Leading the way in the space race, technology, finance, and medical advances.
But conservatives? They want to go back to "the old fashioned way." Like the Dark Ages. Where kings and the aristocracy ruled. And you peasants, obey thy overlord.
Make no mistake, this is nothing new. The attack against education is the drug that conservatives have been pushing through history.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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