Reprinted as an Opinion piece rather than a posting about Education per se.
Here’s an excerpt of an op-ed piece by Michael A. Rebell and Jessica R. Wolff in today’s New York Times:
It is disgraceful that essential components of our public education system now depend on the charitable impulses of wealthy citizens.
At least 23 states have made huge cuts to public education spending this year, and school districts are scrambling to find ways to cope. School foundations, parent-teacher organizations and local education funds supported by business groups and residents contribute at least $4 billion per year to help public schools throughout the country.
You might ask, “Why is this practice so distasteful?” To that point, another excerpt:
Public education was built on the philosophy articulated by Horace Mann, the Massachusetts reformer who pioneered the Common School: a system “one and the same for both rich and poor” with “all citizens on the same footing of equality before the law of land.” Today, that vision of equality is in jeopardy.
The critique by Mann was based on a reaction to education in Europe of his day, which was extremely skewed towards educating the sons and daughters of the wealthy. An American strength at the time was its focus on universal education, which has withstood the test of time. But now, for a variety of reasons, that system is under attack, and whether by design or accident, America risks tearing down its remarkable system of universal public education because of a generalized sense of rage over the willingness to pay any taxes at all.
Those who fear an overall decline in America is upon us need to examine their beliefs and actions with respect to education to see if they are actually causing the decline they fear.