This blog post is a response to Lordodson’s questions that were posted on October 6th. I thought the questions were well written and invited great conversation. I wanted to ensure that I answered her questions as completely as possible. I always invite dialogue and questions from my blog posts, and I want to thank Lordodson for the questions that were provided.
Let me start by thanking you for your very well written questions. I also want to apologize for how long it has taken me to answer. For someone who says they are not well versed in this topic, your questions are well thought out and articulated. I want to honor all of your questions, and I will do my best to answer them completely.
"After reading a bit about what Betsy DeVos is pushing for, I quickly found that she’s an advocate for ensuring students of all financial needs have the choice to go for a private school education via scholarships, tax exemptions, etc. Do you think it’s possible to make this option a reality for all students?"
The problem I have with Betsy DeVos’s plan is that it should not have to be a plan. There are multiple reasons why parents would choose a private or charter institution over a public school for their child. Some of these reasons would be for better academic opportunities, less restrictive environment, and the institutions ability to pick and choose who they accept as students, and of course religious beliefs. The question I would pose is why is this even a problem for our students in public education in the first place? You stated that I talk highly of private education, in all truth, I believe there are pros and cons in private education, but public education should be for all students without any fear that students needs are not being met. As I mentioned before, there are many reasons why parents would send their child to a private institution. However, if our current public school system was established, governed, and presented correctly, there should be no reason for parents to want to take their students out of public schools, unless for personal and religious beliefs.
To answer your question, I do not believe it is fiscally responsible to offer scholarships and tax exemptions for students who want to move into a private institution. With the money that is going towards these scholarships and tax exemptions, the public school continues to suffer. The money being used in these incentives could be used to revitalize and renew the public education system to meet the needs of all students. There shouldn’t be a reason for students to want to leave. The real problem is the political system. Instead of seeing the blatant problem that the political leaders in the education system are creating by pushing student choice, they are ignoring the real problem to create a quick fix that fits their agenda.
"Considering the Department of Education has had 150+ years to progress and develop to the current system, is it possible that private education will always be better because they compete for their business?"
I see an educational pendulum swinging. Right now the agenda is on the private sector and less on the public. But like all pendulums, once they swing one way, they must always swing back. I believe the fix to the pendulum is to get rid of it all together. We just remove all political bias, motivation, and agenda. We must create and develop schools that are openly funded, focused solely on academics, and are purposed in developing pathways to help students succeed. We must stop trying to standardize everything, remove the requirements and expectations of mastery, and allow education to focus on developing the different skill sets that students need to be successful in college, career, and life.
There is a reason why there has been little to no improvements in the current education system for so long. Our education system is based on political agendas. Liberal majorities push for public education, why conservative majorities push alternatives to public education. The destruction of our public education is due to the politics that have control over it. Public education should be funded by taxpayer dollars, focus only on academics and student centered learning, and be free from policies and mandates that hinder student centered learning and progress. The problem with everything I just said is it removes the political control and places the responsibility on the districts; and all political leaders want control.
What people don’t realize is that private institutions are also driven by political agendas. Private institutions have more liberties to teach whatever they deem fit with less constraints and restrictions. Again, private institutions wave more of a conservative flag while public schools wave the liberal flag. Either way, both institutions are politically driven. Education should not be about politics, religion, or business. Education should focus on academics, students’ passions, and pathways to help them succeed.
The question that needs to be considered is, will education ever not be politically motivated? In all honesty, I don’t believe it will. I believe there is potential, but to completely remove political agendas and motivation from all education institutions is very unlikely. If we continually allow the funding of our education to be dependent on political agendas, we will continue committing a major disservice to our students and our future.
"As I mentioned above, I’m not well versed in the public/private education topic, but it strikes me as trying to address a symptom, maybe the discussion should be focused on the root cause?"
With this question, I would like to pose a question in return. What do you feel is the root cause? I believe the root issue is much larger than just one root. I believe the problem we are seeing in our education system stems from multiple root issues; most of which lies in the corrupt and biased political system that controls it.
The question that should be most prominent in everyone's mind is, if students are needing to move schools, change schools, or choose a different venue, then why are we not fixing the problem at the source? Granted, there are personal reasons as to why people choose to not send their child to a public school system, such as religious reasons. However, if they are removing their child from the public education system because of what the public education is not offering, then we should be addressing this issue. I believe this issue is part of a root issue that stems from policies and mandates created by politically charged agendas and biases from individuals who destroy the meaning and value of education.
"What negative/positive effects do you predict for a highly unlikely scenario where our country opts for private education and decides to start phasing out public schools?"
I mentioned above that education swings on a political pendulum. The problem with phasing out public education is that the pendulum will swing toward more conservative ideals and alienate those with liberal ideals. As you see today, conservative groups exclaim that public school pushes liberal agendas and brainwashes students to think more liberally. There is now a “war” on public education from the conservative side. This is why we are seeing a push for privatized education. If the pendulum swings to the right, and public schools become phased out, liberal ideology will fight for educational freedom, claim private schools brainwash students and push a conservative agenda. Honestly, it is a sick cycle carousel that will never end.
In truth, education will never reach its full potential until political agendas are removed from the decision making process, education is 100% student centered, and learning focuses on student passions and less on academic mastery. There is a place for politics, but the classroom is not one of them. The classroom should teach how politics work but NEVER push agendas or focus on only one side of issues. Classrooms should be 100% unbiased and allow for students to freely think through issues through proper collaboration, respectful debate, and fact checking. The teachers role should be that of a guide on the side. Teachers should never express their personal ideals or positions on political issues. Teachers are there to teach HOW to think; not WHAT to think.
I hope I have answered your questions, and I thank you for the opportunity to dive into these issues. I enjoy dialogue in respect to education. If there is something that I did not answer completely, please let me know so I can give a more complete answer. I appreciate your engagement, and I look forward to reading your thoughts.