Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thoughts About Public Schools

As regular readers of my blog know, I frequently listen to the Neal Boortz radio show as a way to monitor what those on the Right are saying.

Boortz often rants about public schools, which he always refers to as "government schools". His contention is that public schools exist not to fully educate students, but rather to give them just enough education to be good citizens, but not so much that they would seriously question how things are in our culture. Boortz has often stated that if it were up to him, he'd abolish the public school system and institute "school choice", which is another name for the voucher system.

While I agree that much about the public school system that needs improvement, and I've ranted about it here on my blog, I think Boortz' views, though they have a grain of truth to them, are extreme, to say the least.

Though there are substandard teachers in the schools -- I know, because I dealt with them during my son's school years -- there are also many gifted, caring teachers who make a difference in their students' lives and school districts that have outstanding programs.

Boortz also misses the point that the best thing a teacher or a school can do is to give students the tools in which they can further educate themselves throughout their lives. My father taught me, and I've taught my son, that if one is a fully fluent reader and a competent researcher, then that person is capable of getting a good education, regardless of what kind of school they're in. That is, if you're a good reader and researcher, you have the tools to acquire the rest of the knowledge that one needs to have a well-rounded education. Motivated students always take the initiative in educating themselves, even when they have teachers to guide them, and don't wait passively for others to educate them.

Personally, I think Boortz' "government education" rant theme is just another in his elitist worldview, along with his "poor, badly done to rich people" theme.


1 comment:

Dee Jay said...

Like you said, there are good and bad teachers out there. Sadly, the ones that are substandard seem to be the ones that stand out in many people's minds.

I think we'll be in trouble if we start chipping away at public education any more than we already do. Every time a student bails to a private school, there is that much less money going into the public school.

Privates certainly can push the kids harder, but many are able to do so because they can be selective as to who they admit. In public schools, there is no selection - all are welcome and all must be educated to the best of their ability.

Along comes the standardized testing or ACT scores which reflect lesser performances in public schools, but the public seems to forget that a number of the students taking those tests are simply unable to do any better.

Is there room for improvement in public schools? Without a doubt, we need to work on them. I don't, however, believe NCLB is the answer nor do I believe vouchers are going to improve education for all students.