Tuesday, June 12, 2007
National Review's Jonah Goldberg pens a column that starts with a bang and ends with a whimper.
The bang? "Here's a good question for you: Why have public schools at all?"
On the one hand, it's nice that someone with such a wide readership is asking such a question. On the other, it is too bad he can't give the right answer. The result is that Goldberg basically grants a conservative imprimatur to the next step in socializing medicine while really only setting the stage for a transition from a mainly socialized education system to a completely fascist one (i.e., from government ownership of the means of production in that sector to one of nominal ownership under tight government supervision). As icing on that cake, he also bows to that criterion of truth so beloved by the environmentalists of late, "consensus".
Stand by for the whimper:
Right now, there's a renewed debate about providing "universal" health insurance. For some liberals, this simply means replicating the public school model for healthcare. (Stop laughing.) But for others, this means mandating that everyone have health insurance -- just as we mandate that all drivers have car insurance -- and then throwing tax dollars at poorer folks to make sure no one falls through the cracks.Let's explore this last paragraph a bit, shall we?
There's a consensus in America that every child should get an education, but as David Gelernter noted recently in the Weekly Standard, there's no such consensus that public schools need to do the educating.
Really, what would be so terrible about government mandating that every kid has to go to school, and providing subsidies and oversight when necessary, but then getting out of the way? [bold added]
What would be so terrible about the government forcing -- I mean, "mandating" -- private schools to take a certain number of incorrigible and ineducable delinquents as a condition for accreditation? What would be so terrible about government money funding religious schools? What would be so terrible about local authorities determining that "real schools" must teach creationism in science class or sex education to children you do not think are ready for it? (Goldberg should remember that "religious schools" will include madrassas and perhaps should replace the word "creationism" with "evolution"....)
In short, what is so terrible about the government continuing to order people around and remaining in the business of influencing which ideologies guide and are taught in our schools (under the umbrella of "necessary" oversight, of course) -- while pretending to hand the schools over to the private sector? What is so terrible about replacing one failed government system that people at least realize is a government system, with another that people will think is "capitalistic"? And what is so terrible about capitalism once again taking an undeserved rap when this "solution" for public education fails?
These questions, I trust, just about answer themselves. Not only are our public schools so bad that many people will mistake this fascist proposal for a capitalist solution, but almost any change, even this one, would probably bring about a temporary improvement. But I am not interested in temporary improvements or in compounding our lousy educational sector with a lousy medical sector by muddying the political debate.
Goldberg's proposal would be acceptable only as part of a long-term solution, as a transition between our current socialist education system to a fully private one. Goldberg's own data clearly indicate that the public would be receptive to a privatized system. His job as an intellectual is to guide the public towards the best course of action. Sadly, he has failed, as my line of questioning above has already indicated.
Blind rebellion against a failed system when a revolution is needed will not do. We must abolish public education and with it, all government subsidies and "supervision".