Home > Uncategorized > Are Public Schools Analogous to Public Housing?

Are Public Schools Analogous to Public Housing?

An article written by Lee Raudonis, former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, was posted Sunday on the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s blog and cross-posted by Diane Ravitch. In this blog post Raudonis asserts that the ultimate goal of the authors of Constitutional Amendment 1, which was approved by the Georgia voters in November, is to re-define public schools in a way that equates them in the minds of the public with “public housing”. He writes:

To better understand (the effect of this change in the public’s mindset), think about the terms “public housing,” “public hospital,” and “public school.” For most people, the term “public housing” conjures up images of low cost, government-subsidized housing for people with little or no income who cannot afford to buy or rent their own homes. Similarly, the term “public hospital” is commonly used to refer to publicly funded hospitals that primarily serve those members of society who have little or no income or private health insurance.

Unlike the previous terms, the term “public school” does not normally conjure up images of places where only “poor people” attend school. Rather, for most of our nation’s history, the term has most commonly been thought of as the place where American children of all descriptions attend school. It is the place where children from the lowest income level to some in the highest income level, and the vast majority in between, come to learn how to read, write, and calculate, as well as countless other lessons, such as how to be good citizens. It is the place that America as a whole is educated. (emphasis added)

In the ideal, public schools operate on the pretext described in Raudonis’ post… but in fact our schools are and have been economically segregated for decades, particularly in the north where districts formed and re-formed as suburban developments overtook farmlands and the property values fluctuated as mills closed and businesses vanished. Charter schools will only exacerbate this kind of socio-economic segregation as affluent and/or engaged parents migrate to charter schools leaving the “public schools” to poor and disengaged parents whose children face steep challenges and whose resources will diminish as other parents flee. What makes Raudonis’ post disturbing is that some politicians see this as a desirable outcome.

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