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?
Every brand of huckster from corporate crud-mongers lo ex-con junk bond kings looks at our system of public education and sees nothing but one commercial slopportunity after another. Who cares if they frack the bedrock of democracy in their Race To Make A Buck?
It’s hard to keep up with the tornadoes and tsunamis of ‘servative sludge that spew from the legislative recycling chute of ALEC’s Restaurant, but one good place concerned citizens can track the educational front in this national war on democracy is Diane Ravitch’s blog.
But I’ve been told that schools haven’t been funded by city property taxes since Proposition A was passed in 1994 — that they fall under the State for “equal” distribution of funding (or lack thereof?). Is that true?
I am in agreement with your observations. I don’t know what comes out of this annual gathering that benefits South East Michigan or the State as a whole.
The “Homestead HH” column lists the extra “hold harmless” millage that wealthier districts have been able to levy since Proposal A. While many have declined substantially over the years, they still offer a significant advantage to already-advantaged children.