Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Liberal Guilt, Public Education, My Clear Conscience

James Allen

A new cornerstone piece on public education by Allison Benedikton on titled, "If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person," was shocking but consistent and clearly revealed that liberals value the word “education,” as long as the word “public,” precedes it. According to the author, public schools continue to fail because parents are sending their children to private schools, instead of public schools. Parents who spend their hard earned money to send their children to private schools are in fact destroying the fabric of America’s public education: which is immoral. For liberals, abortion is not a moral issue but rather an issue of liberty and choice. Education whether public, private or charter, should have the same application of liberty and personal choice. Unfortunately, allowing freedom and choice in education would require an admission of failure and for liberals to turn their back on a core government institution.

This is because liberals value community more than the first and primary institution, which is “The Family.” Liberals believe that public education equals strong community and that all people have an obligation to community before family. Since community is more important than family, we are therefore obligated to send our children to public schools that are failing. Liberals would also suggest that we invest our time and other resources to improve the failing schools, as if other options did not exist. Truthfully, I feel no such obligation to public education nor can I intellectually rationalize sentencing my child to state education for the sake of the greater good. Public schools need good students and good parents and I understand that, but not at the cost of my child’s future.

So in applying this blind allegiance, if I live near a failing public school –which many people do – I have an obligation to send my children to that school. I also by implication of this argument have an obligation to fight for what my child needs as in new computers, AP classes, and specialized education. Liberals believe that property taxes are not enough, even for parents who pay for public education and do not use it and also pay for private education. Liberals want more than our money they want our flesh and blood and for us to sacrifice our children on the public school alter no matter the cost. Instead, I would rather send my child to a school where I believe they will be educated, instead of learning how to be busy worker bees producing widgets. It is my belief that classes in formal logic, centered in a classical education, will provide my child with an ancient forgotten skill: the ability to think and reason properly.

In my opinion, public education is as bad as public restrooms or public swimming pools. People become accustomed to free stuff and then develop a sense of entitlement believing they deserve community pools and free lunches. Feeling that we have certain natural rights and actually having them are two completely different things. I feel I have a natural right to dunk a basketball and play in the NBA, but no matter how hard I practice, playing in the NBA is not possible because I am a 170-pound short white guy. The government does not give rights to people and our constitution only protects our natural rights from the threat of government. Liberals and progressives in the Democratic Party have an agenda that is connected to a misguided worldview and it starts in public education.

Liberals value equality and so do conservatives, but the definition of that word is used very differently between conservatives and liberals. I believe human beings have natural rights by the very nature of being human, whereas liberals believe their rights come from government. Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity, as all men and women being equal before God. Liberals on the other hand believe in equality of outcomes, where everyone becomes so equal that no one really has anything at all.

Applying the equality of outcomes to education is not only foolish but also dangerous. I will send my child to a school where their talent will be cultivated and they will learn how to think. In short, any school that is in line with my values is where I want my child to attend.

Leave the public schools to liberals and to people who do not care and wish to die on the hill of public education reform. The longer we suffer the fools of government the longer they can pretend their grand ideas are working. I do believe in community and in the importance of education. What we are missing is not the want or desire for community and better education, but an actual foundation for community to exist.


British "Free schools" to double in number

A bilingual primary school backed by Judith Kerr, the children's author, and a college sponsored by Manchester City football club are among 93 new free schools set to open this term.

Some 93 new free schools will open for the new school year, more than doubling the previous number to make a total of 174, according to the Department for Education.

Among them is the Judith Kerr Primary School, named after the renowned author of Mog and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, which will be the first bilingual free school in London.

Pupils at the Southwark school will be taught to read, write and speak in English and German, with classwork and homework to be set in both languages.

Also set to open is Connell Sixth Form College in Beswick, east Manchester, which is backed by Manchester City FC and will be led by the Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, one of the top secondary schools in the country.

Other new schools include the Cathedral Primary School in Bristol, which will specialise in music and encourage all pupils to learn at least one musical instrument, and Thames Valley Free School in Reading, which will cater for autistic pupils.

Free schools, a flagship education policy of the coalition government, are a new generation of taxpayer-funded schools are run by parents’ groups, teachers, charities and faith organisations completely free of local authority control.

Unions have claimed the schools are not accountable and complained that some have been opened up in areas with a surplus of places, drawing pupils away from existing schools.

But the government announced last month that 18 of the first 24 free schools had been given a "good" or "outstanding" rating by Ofsted, although one was declared "inadequate".

Ministers said the most of the schools would open in areas with a shortage of places, and that they would ultimately create an extra 46,000 places.

In addition, 13 "studio schools", which aim to bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace, and 12 university technical colleges will also open this month.

The Prime Minister said free schools are "one of the most important reforms to education in this country for a generation," while Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, described them as an "integral part" of state education in England.

Basia Lubaczewska, principal designate of Judith Kerr Primary School, added: "We believe that early immersion is key to ensuring bilingualism for all our children, whatever the children's linguistic ability when they start.

"The staff team and I are hugely excited to be embarking on this pioneering journey to create a bilingual environment that embeds both English and German within our curriculum."


Australia: Conservative government to review unions and ALP presence in history curriculum

TONY Abbott has rebooted the history wars with a warning too much emphasis on left wing politics in the national curriculum will be reviewed by a Coalition government.

The Opposition leader told the National Press Club the curriculum lacks focus on Australia's past, "other than indigenous heritage" and has "too great a focus on issues which are the predominant concern of one side of politics".

"I think the unions are mentioned far more than business," Mr Abbott said.  "I think there are a couple of Labor prime ministers who get a mention, from memory not a single Coalition prime minister. So I think it is possible to do better."

The only Prime Minister mentioned by name in the foundation to Year 10 curriculum is John Curtin, who led the Labor Party from 1935 to 1945.

Mr Abbott said any changes to the curriculum would be guided by "professional educators", but it is unclear how this will happen, given that the Coalition school's policy, unveiled last week, reveals plans to "refocus" the body that implements the curriculum.

"I think we're entitled to say (we) could do better. I think we're entitled to say maybe you ought to have a rethink about this, but what actually happens is ultimately a matter for them," he said.

The move comes after News Corp reported earlier this year the "black armband" view of how the Anzac legend is taught would also be changed by an incoming Abbot government.

Shadow education spokesman Christopher Pyne said in April one of the first education priorities of the Coalition would be restore Anzac Day to its "rightful" place of respect.

Critics of the curriculum say a trend towards political correctness means history classes are placing undue emphasis on indigenous culture, Asia and sustainability, with Anzac Day mentioned in the context of other national days such as Ramadan and Buddha Day.

Labor introduced a national curriculum in 2011 for English, Science, Maths and History, with the remainder of the syllabus scheduled to be implemented by 2016.

Australian Education Union Angelo Gavrielatos said the Coalition's claims of a left wing bias in the curriculum were incorrect.

"We certainly hope that this is not an indication of an intent to reinstate the culture wars of the past," Mr Gavrielatos said, referring to heated debate during the Howard government years over the emphasis of England's role in Australia's history.

The "history wars" were a feature of the Howard government, with the then Prime Minister in 2006 calling for changes in the way children were taught about Australia's past and an end to the "divisive, phony debate about national identity".

Mr Howard used his Australia Day address to the National Press Club on the 10th anniversary of his leadership to call for a "coalition of the willing" to promote changes to the teaching of history, which he said was neglected in schools, slanted towards apologising for the past and questioning national achievement.

"Too often, it is taught without any sense of structured narrative, replaced by a fragmented stew of 'themes' and 'issues'," Mr Howard said. "And too often, history, along with other subjects in the humanities, has succumbed to a postmodern culture of relativism where any objective record of achievement is questioned or repudiated.

"Part of preparing young Australians to be informed and active citizens is to teach them the central currents of our nation's development."

NSW Teacher's Federation president Maurie Mulheron said Mr Abbott was seeking to "politicise" the curriculum.

"It's a shame because of the extraordinary work of so many teachers involved in writing the syllabus, and now they are going to start questioning the professionalism of those teachers," he said.

Mr Pyne said the Coalition would take away ACARA's assessment role, which has been increasingly controversial in the wake of criticism of the NAPLAN regime - which an Abbott government would also review.

"We will refocus the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, to ensure that it is focused on developing the highest standard curriculum documents," Mr Pyne said.

"It will become the Australian Curriculum Authority, but the agency will retain its existing responsibility for drafting the national curriculum documents on behalf of the Federal Government and the States and Territories."

Mr Pyne said the Coalition had been calling for the curriculum "to give appropriate weight to our western and Judeo-Christian heritage as a nation" since it was first drafted.

A spokesperson for ACARA said "ACARA, as an independent authority, would not comment on statements made in the lead up to the election. The F-10 history curriculum approved by the Council of Federal, State and Territory Education Ministers is available on the Australian Curriculum website."


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