Just so you know: I support public schools

It’s a sunny spring day and I don’t want to get ranty. And I generally avoid political topics on this blog, since it’s my conviction that politics are best fought over around the family dinner table, where you can really let loose with the screaming and the food-throwing. But sometimes, I want to speak up.

Public education is a great endeavor. Building schools, and teaching all our children to read and write, is the very least a wealthy nation can do. I consider it a basic social responsibility. Public education is a good thing.

Not everybody in America believes this.

South Carolina candidate for Lt. Governor wants to end public schools: Nothing ‘in the Bible about state education.’

Ray Moore, a retired Army Reserves chaplain and president of Frontline Ministries, sketched out his plan for dismantling public education in the U.S. on Wednesday’s edition of The Janet Mefferd Show.

He has encouraged Christian families to withdraw their children from public schools and educate them at home or enroll them in religious schools, and he believes the tipping point would occur at about 25 percent to 35 percent of the total K-12 population.

“Tipping point” means the point at which funding for public education would collapse, and the school doors would be shut and locked.

He said non-religious schools, which he has called “the Pharaoh’s schools,” posed an existential threat to Christians.

Moore has previously claimed that 40 percent of public school students turn away from the church by the end of elementary school and 80 percent by the end of high school.

“We’ve got to go back to the original biblical model, which is Christian education and home education, and go back to the original American model.

“The scriptures teach this model, this is a biblical model, we don’t see anything in the Bible about state education,” Moore says.

We don’t. I cannot cite a single chapter or verse on how to structure school bond issues. There’s no commandment for cities to teach arithmetic to seven-year-olds. St. Paul wrote no letters authorizing land grant universities to teach animal husbandry. But for a politician to assert — in The United States of America — that public education is therefore illegitimate? That is absurd.

The fact that my opinion can be considered controversial deeply worries me.

For a while now, a number states have worked to finance private — mostly fundamentalist Christian — schools with taxpayer money. It’s a sideways method of funneling public funds to sectarian schools. At least Mr. Moore is open about his goals, and the goals of this political faction. He does not merely want Christians to shun public schools, or to move funds meant for public education to private religious academies. He wants to destroy public education altogether.

Folks, this should shock you. The fact that I thought twice about discussing this issue, because I worried that some readers would object to me saying, it’s our responsibility as a society to educate all our children, makes me slightly sick.

And, everybody: This is why it’s imperative that we vote.

9 responses to “Just so you know: I support public schools

  1. Amen and Amen, Meg! I couldn’t agree with you more. Those folks give me nightmares. And while you’re in Texas, would you mind terribly cleaning up that whole textbook mess down there? Thanks ever so much!

  2. There is nobody so narrow minded and tirelessly meddlesome as a religious zealot, of any flavor. You would hope that someone as misguided as this would enjoy all the obscurity he deserves; the fact that he rose to such a prominent level is frightening.
    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Be vigilant, folks!

  3. As a teacher, I thank you for bringing this up and sharing your views. Now, if we can just get a million more people to say what you said outloud, we’ll be good. The crazies are always so loud. We need to drown them out.

  4. It seems to me the magic troika has been fulfilled in the arena of “American Exceptionalism.” With this latest religious nut making Christianity look bad we now excel in Idiocy, Rudeness and Greed. And people wonder why I never join any group. This guy must be a kissing cousin of Cliven Bundy.

  5. While my children are homeschooled, this was my choice. I was glad to be able to make it. I didn’t have to work outside the home. I have a stable environment in which to school them, and I have a college degree. I have time, energy, money and motivation to educate them. How is this senator from South Carolina going to educate the children of the uneducated or poor or lazy or just plain unable parents? Where will those children find hope?

  6. As an educator in the so-called “Pharoah schools”, I of course say hear, hear, Meg. That supporting government/taxpayer-funded public education has become a political issue would make Jefferson spin in his grave. Public schools certainly have their problems — probably trying to be too many things to such a wide diversity of students — but American democracy depends upon literacy (including scientific literacy), civic-mindedness and learning to live respectfully in a pluralistic society.

  7. soaklife: More power to you. I have friends who homeschool. I’m humbled by their dedication and delighted to see their kids thriving. And you’re right — not all parents have the time, means, or ability to be full-time teachers. We shouldn’t demand that they do. Heck, I have a graduate degree, and if I had tried to homeschool my kids through high school it would have been a disaster. (Chemistry? Spanish? Yikes.) That’s why trying to destroy school systems is repugnant.

    Hiker Chick: Go, girl!

  8. The mind boggles yet again. “No public schools in the bible?” Assuming for a nanosecond that the Judeo-Christian bible is the catalogue of everything allowable, is he also advocating no computers, no cats, no air conditioning, no penicillin, no gin and tonics, no winter boots, no radios (unless, um, maybe the Ark of the Covenant? Not sure….), no guitars, no chocolate? No cars except the Honda Accord. (“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one Accord in one place.” KJV, Acts 2:1)

    I cry.

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