There’s no Neutrality in Public Education

schlchcRecently, I have seen both pro and con editorial pieces regarding the proposed expansion of educational vouchers in Wisconsin.
 
Those critical of educational vouchers keep emphasizing “accountability.” But allowing anti-choice advocates to determine standards of accountability is like putting the foxes on guard duty in the chicken coup. Accountability is best determined by the parents making the educational choices. Those against educational choice will undoubtedly find that metric unacceptable
 
Those promoting vouchers frequently point to financial cost and quality of education as two important advantages. Of course, these two points are vigorously challenged, yet it occurs to me that while they are important issues, they aren’t the only things worth considering.
 
All educational options, whether public or private, are accompanied by an educational philosophy. Those who see public education as the only legitimate default option, are guilty of the “assumed neutrality fallacy.” The state has a compelling interest in setting educational standards and determining essential curricula, but not in dictating the ideological milieu under which such education takes place.
 
“Educational philosophy” includes, but is not limited to the following components: positions on cultural and political issues that are predominant and present in the learning milieu, the principles that unify the diverse disciplines of educational curricula, the overarching goal of the various facets of education, and the subjective emphasis on humanities at the expense of objective dedication to the “Three R’s.”
 
Interestingly enough, the word “university” is made up of two other English words, “unity” and “diversity.” Originally the university was a place where learning in diverse disciplines occurred, while bound by a unifying principle common to all educational disciplines. Today’s public education offers cognitive dissonance in place of unity. A good friend who taught political science courses in public schools, at both the high school and college level put it aptly. To paraphrase him: Students come to my political science class and hear that man is noble because he is endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights. Then they rush off to a biology class where they are told they owe their existence to an accident of chance, which began as organic chemicals in a prehistoric pond. Is it any wonder we have young people hopelessly confused about the deepest questions in life?
 
People opposing vouchers will argue that educational choice already exists. Perhaps so, but not on a level playing field. If you chose anything but the public option, you wind up paying for both. Unless you are wealthy, it’s easy to be compelled against choice by financial necessity.
 
Funny thing though, while some people think of their reproductive rights position as pro-choice (another form or pretended or false neutrality), the opportunity to choose only seems to be a virtue when the subjects of the choice are limited to reproductive privileges and sexual ethics. For all other issues choice seems to be anathema and is repackaged as a “war” against one thing or another. Some people think we are obligated to pay for the private reproductive choices of others in health care, but not the educational decisions of American parents.
 
The public school culture is undoubtedly influenced by the NEA, which has social and political positions that bend sharply to the left. It’s beyond naïve to assume that this worldview isn’t absorbed by some educators and filtered down to students through subtle osmosis. This is more prevalent in some places than others, but it certainly characterizes the trend.
 
In the Humanist Magazine (Jan/Feb, 1983, p. 26), John Dunphy in an essay entitled “A Religion for A New Age.,” states:
 
“. . . I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level . . . “
 
I’m not claiming every educator is involved in some dark conspiracy of brainwashing, but it’s important to understand that some social engineers have a different vision of the purpose for public education then what you seek for your children.
 
If our federal and state governments are constitutionally bound not to favor one theological position over another, why should they financially establish a particular educational philosophy over all others? Expanding the voucher system creates the potential to balance that latent favoritism.
 
As Abraham Lincoln so eloquently observed “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
 
Petition and vote for those candidates who are pro-choice on education and support school choice legislation.

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