On Sept. 14 Obama will once again address American children in the classroom. Commander in Chief will become Chief DemaPedagogue.
Last year’s speech created quite the hubub. And rightfully so. As Neal McCluskey pointed out, the speech was not only unnecessary (and came conveniently packaged with a left-leaning lesson plan), but it was an example of the general problems with centralized education. I dislike the address because it is emblematic of the Orwellian-style mission to socialize the nation’s children into a common ethos via the public school system.
Now, I’m not Justice Scalia; I do not wish to blithely overuse the “Orwellian” epithet. It is difficult, however, to come up with any reason why the government must run schools other than the idea that socializing children with common attitudes is somehow the mission of the state.
Those who oppose vouchers often have this idea undergirding their objections. When I explain to them that I believe in universal, state-funded education, they still construct elaborate arguments for why this universal, state-funded education must be run by the government. I’ve already made a concession–a heresy to some libertarians–that government should pay for education. Evidently, this is not enough.
But why? Because all children need to be instructed in the same things? Because instilling some sense of collectivism is vital to the goals and aspirations of the leftist? Both. I’ve been told that privately run schools may not teach an adequate respect and appreciation for the environment, that creationism/intelligent design should not be allowed inside children’s heads, that racism/nationalism may be taught rather than “tolerance.” All are cited as dangers of publicly funded, but not publicly administered, education system.
The “it takes a village” attitude has long been a cornerstone of collectivism. Public education partially originated with aspirations towards common socialization and collectivization. John Dewey, acolyte for progressive education, created an entire philosophy of education based on theories of socialization and collectivization.
Having started school in the 80s, I got my healthy dose of such faddish attempts at socialization. I was forced to endure a thoroughly insipid class called P.A.W.S. (Positive Action With Students) that was as vacuous as it sounds. Of course I also had my time in D.A.R.E., a substantial dose of eco-mania (although it pales in comparison to what modern children get), and the daily pledge of allegiance. Thankfully, my parents consistently warned me to not pay too much attention to these brazen attempts by the edu-cratic establishment to mold me into a good citizen.
As I have written before, how we educate our children is a bizarre thing to choose democratically. We demand more brands of cereal than we demand varieties of education. And, instead of fighting for a market system that will fill nearly all our demands, both sides fight for control over the “commanding heights” of pedagogy and the monopolistic power to teach everybody else’s children.