Archive for Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Education key to political future

October 28, 2009


“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” — Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”

Some conservatives are prematurely salivating over President Obama’s declining poll numbers. According to a recent Gallup daily tracking poll, “the nine-point drop in the most recent quarter is the largest Gallup has ever measured for an elected president between the second and third quarters of his term, dating back to 1953.” That may comfort some Obama opponents, but three years is a long time until the next presidential election so conservatives and Republicans (not always the same) had better think of a long-range strategy if they want to save the country from the long-term consequences of what many call “socialism.”

Matthew Spalding of The Heritage Foundation offers one component of that strategy in his new book, “We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future.” Spalding believes, “America is unique in that universal principles of liberty are the foundation of its particular system of government and its political culture.” He lists them and explains their history: liberty, private property, consent of the governed, equality, natural rights, religious freedom, rule of law, constitutionalism.”

Middle-aged and older Americans recall these subjects. Younger Americans may be less familiar with them, as the public schools no longer seem to emphasize what once held us together, preferring to teach “diversity” instead.

Six years ago, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, introduced a bill to require a greater emphasis on American history and civics in public school classrooms. Alexander quoted Federal Judge Aleta Trauger who spoke at a swearing-in ceremony for 77 new citizens in Nashville: “We are Americans because we also share certain fundamental beliefs. We are bound together by the unique set of principles set forth in documents that created and continue to define this nation. We find our heritage and inspiration in the profound words of the Declaration of Independence: ‘All people are created equal and endowed with unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ We pledge allegiance to the Republic as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. But the greatest expression of our national identity is the constitution of the United States which established the responsibilities and rights that go with citizenship.”

All true in the past, but what if today’s schools no longer teach those principles and the Constitution is not supreme? What then?

Last week in New York City, the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) held a dinner in honor of Eva Moskowitz, who runs the Success Charter Network, which operates four charter schools serving about 1,500 students in Harlem. One of the speakers was Jaime Martinez, an eighth-grader who was rescued, along with his sister, Ashley, from a failing public school where he says he experienced bullying and fighting. Jaime’s grades are up at his Catholic private school; he sings in a choir and takes ballroom dancing lessons.

CSF President Darla Romfo wants the education conversation to go “beyond arguments about vouchers, charter schools, and test scores into the newer territory of empowering parents and children with real information about how to choose schools and demand excellence, with the ultimate aim of expanding good options for every child.”

It is this objective that should be embraced by those wishing to “reclaim America,” not only for ourselves, but also for future generations.

If conservatives and Republicans support an exodus from public schools as a strategic goal, they will strike at the heart of liberalism, while simultaneously liberating minorities trapped in failed government schools. To free them and teach them about America and its promise of hope will produce everything they are looking for but can’t find in politics. It will also pay political dividends as children and their parents see which party and persuasion cares about them enough to bring real change to their lives.

It’s either this approach, with results, or continuing to put faith in politicians, who have proved themselves unworthy of such faith. If parents fail to act, they won’t know what they had ’til it’s gone.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 7 months ago


The NEA union bosses don't like these suggestions. They can only maintain power if we keep our mouths shut and keep our kids in their government schools.

tomatogrower 8 years, 7 months ago

Private schools can turn out better students, because drug addict parents or parents who haven't grown up yet and like to be their kid's "buddy" don't send their kids to private schools. The traumatized kid and the spoiled brat would be asked to leave at a private school, because they aren't cutting it. Public schools have to teach everyone. They can't tell a kid who has attitude to leave and never come back. Private schools can be picky, public schools have to teach anyone in their district. Private schools can discipline their students, public schools have to deal with parents who think their little devils are beyond reproach, and that the teachers are picking on their poor little babies.
I think that if a parent isn't doing their job, maybe we should take the kid out of the home. Some kids have so many toys, they just can't be bothered with learning. And parents provide these toys, don't give them a bedtime, and let them run the household. Then they think they can come to school and run the classroom. I worked in schools for awhile, and I can tell you a lot of teachers are getting tired of it. I wonder what would happen if they just all walked away. What would the parents do for daycare? Who would really raise the kids then. Some kids actually told me that they don't need an education. They have older siblings who have finished school and just live at home doing nothing, but playing all night and sleeping all day, and the parents let them. What they'll do when their parents die, who knows?

Paul R Getto 8 years, 7 months ago

Both sides of the political spectrum present interesting ironies in their arguments about schools. Schools are deemed failing (not true in most cases), but new missions are created each legislative session in the hope schools will solve yet another of society's problems by shaping youth in new ways. The same legislators who add to the schools' expectations usually insist they be pursued with no new resources. You cannot have it both ways. Private schools do a good job in many cases, but they are no substitute for the public system and, because they can choose whom to educate and are allowed to limit their mission, it is difficult to compare their results to public schools. Special education is one example. If a private school allows a student with an IEP to enroll, they often ask a nearby public school to help implement the program to carry out the IEP. Overall, this is a pretty good column for Mr. Thomas.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 7 months ago

"Why can't the taxpayer sending their child to a private school use the portion of their taxes that go for .... __"

Fill in the blank with any public service (fire, police?) and ask yourself this question again. Public schools serve all of us, even if we choose to send our kids elsewhere. People who have never had children benefit from public schools. There can be no opt-outs if we are to have a functional society. Like it or not, we all depend upon each other for many things, fire, police, the military, public hospitals, schools, etc.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 7 months ago

"The main assumption that private schools don't result in educated citizens." ======== Never intended to state or imply that. Private schools do a fine job in most cases, but to compare them to public schools, which cannot control who enrols, is not an accurate assessment. Private schools are a choice, just like the few people who hire their own security force for their estate. These people, however, do not get excused from paying the taxes that fund security for others, police and fire, for example. PS: Corporations are not evil, they just should not, IMHO, have the same 'rights' as persons since they clearly are not persons.

remember_username 8 years, 7 months ago

Vet - "Actually, beo, studies show home schooled and private schools turn out academically superior students with higher critical thinking skills than public schools.That shows very few of these students will turn out to be democrats."

  • I'm not challenging your claims but I would like to see references for your statements. Part of good critical thinking requires looking at the statistics with my own eyes. Thanks.

Orwell 8 years, 7 months ago

Yep, our schools are short of perfect – so let's take money away from them and give it to somebody who has the capacity to educate only a small fraction of our children. That'll make everything better for everybody, won't it?

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