Home > Uncategorized > When MSNBC is Debating “The Existence Of Public Schools” We Are In Trouble!

When MSNBC is Debating “The Existence Of Public Schools” We Are In Trouble!

February 24, 2015

Those of us who are advocates for public education as a means of providing an equal opportunity for all now find ourselves fighting for the very premise of public education itself. In a recent MSNBC blog post, reporter Steve Benen suggests that the concept of public education, like the concept of the minimum wage, Medicare, and Social Security is under assault as hard right conservatives frame the debate over funding going forward. Benen provides an example of how hard core conservatives are now staking out the claim that public schools should be abandoned:

Fox host Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery suggested getting rid of the nation’s public schools during a discussion on Thursday’s “Outnumbered.”
Kennedy’s comments came during a segment about an Oklahoma bill, approved by a House committee, that seeks to eliminate AP US History. The bill asserts that the current iteration of the course doesn’t show “American exceptionalism,” instead highlighting “what is bad about America.” (NOTE: See earlier blog posts on this topic here and here for an appalling example of how one state intends to address the Common Core.)
The Fox host said, “There really shouldn’t be public schools, should there?  I mean we should really go to a system where parents of every stripe have a choice, have a say in the kind of education their kids get because, when we have centralized, bureaucratic education doctrines and dogmas like this, that’s exactly what happens.”
If one obscure Fox News talking head was making this argument it would be bad enough, but as Benen notes this argument is getting some traction:
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a likely Republican presidential candidate, has said many times that he doesn’t believe public schools should exist. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) hasn’t gone nearly that far, but he did champion a voucher scheme in his home state – a step towards privatization – and recently condemned public education as “government-run, unionized monopolies.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is also clearly not a fan of public schools, and celebrates “alternatives  to conventional public education.”
At the state and local level, this kind of talk is arguably even more common. Last year the vice-chair of the Ohio House Education Committee condemned public schools as “a socialist system.”
And as we talked about the other day, it’s hard to forget the Texas Republican lawmaker whosaid of public schools several years ago, “Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell.”
Steve Benen concludes his post with this:
But what was once an unheard of idea is slowly becoming a little more common. For education proponents, this isn’t good news.
To which I add: Steve! Don’t you see that MSNBC’s reporting on this validates the argument that “public school monopolies” are “socialist plots” and is thereby adding to the commonality of this argument? Instead of countering the argument framed by the Fox News crowd MSNBC could do a better service for public schools by advancing the arguments FOR public education… but it appears that that train has left the station and now public schools will be arguing for their very existence on a supposedly “liberal” media outlet. We’ve got an uphill fight ahead of us!


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