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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Public Schools

So much for the Republican dream of vouchers:
The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private school counterparts fared better.

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2003 from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools on eighth-grade math.(Imagine if they had tested them on science!--me)

The study, carrying the imprimatur of the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department, was contracted to the Educational Testing Service and delivered to the department last year.....

The report separated private schools by type and found that among private school students, those in Lutheran schools performed best, while those in conservative Christian schools did worst.
The right will not accept this, though, because the whole point of diverting public funds to private schools was never about the quality of education, but about religious indoctrination.

I went to public schools, and received a good education. The attempt (ongoing) to divert funds from public schools into private ones only weakens the public school system. Rather than pulling money out of the public school system, what should be done is to make sure that it is spread around equally, so that all school districts are "good" school districts. Property taxes, when used to fund education, do the opposite–rich districts can spend thousands more on their students, providing their children with all thing good and new, while poor districts struggle to get by with large classrooms and inadequate facilities, continuing the cycle of poor education and poverty in those communities.

One of the things that has always differentiated our country from those that are much more class based (e.g. England) is the provision of a good, secular education to all its citizens, with a common curriculum, teaching us all to be citizens of our country, rather than members of some small elite group. It is the public education system that has allowed the US to be a melting pot, and has kept us from having the sorts of sectarian problems plaguing France and England due to non-assimilation. Public schools teach us all, immigrants and native-born, how to be Americans.

We need to preserve and protect public education, this jewel established, in their ecumenical wisdom, by our forefathers.


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