Every year the so-called “movers and shakers” of Michigan (i.e. corporations and political gab-flies and brown-nosers) gather on Mackinaw Island for a few days of counter-revolutionary planning. This year’s focus appears to be on how to undermine American Democracy by accelerating the destruction of Detroit and the public education system.
Speaker after speaker, cabal after cabal of “conservatives” have attacked the concept of the public education system and advocated for increasingly privatizing education, or fracturing the public school system with competing systems such as Charter Schools. (Never mind that charter schools have proven over the years to be less effective, on the whole, than public schools).
Mind you, I am a critic of the current state of public education, but an absolute believer in the need for a public education system that is available to every child. In this sense I am simply reflecting the values of the Founding Fathers, such as Jefferson and Adams, who argued strenuously that democracy could not flourish without an educated citizenry. Public school education was a foundational issue for them because they realized that a strong public school system would be essential in safeguarding democracy.
In the years before our Republic was founded, education was a class driven privilege. It was a vehicle by which society was divided into rulers and the ruled. The educated classes controlled the economic and political engines of the day. Jefferson, among others, recognized that a true democracy had to rely on educating all citizens, regardless of their economic status. It was like they anticipated the legions of people making decisions by watching Fox News. The ability to think critically and not be led like Lemmings to a cliff was vital in their thinking.
I suggest that the right social policy should be to strengthen and improve the public school system, not destroy it by diverting funding and focus. An attack on the public school system is an attempt by corporations and conservatives to destroy our democracy. Where are all the drones when we need them most?
There is a simple answer to almost all the problems of the public schools: They are absurdly funded by the property tax. Thus, rich cities (i.e. Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, etc.) have great schools; poor cities (i.e. Detroit and Flint) have failing schools. Duh?