Home > Uncategorized > Dartmouth Professor Randal Ballmer’s Eloquent Defense of Public Education in the Face of GOP’s ESA’s

Dartmouth Professor Randal Ballmer’s Eloquent Defense of Public Education in the Face of GOP’s ESA’s

February 7, 2021

Our local newspaper offers space to local op ed columnists and today’s featured writer, Dartmouth Professor  of Religion Randall Balmer, offers an eloquent defense of public education in his piece titled “Assault on Public Education Shifts to the States“.  In once column, Mr. Balmer provides a concise description of the impact Betsy DeVos’ policies had on states and how it is playing out in New England as well as in the midwest where Mr. Balmer grew up. Rather than paraphrase his penultimate paragraphs, I offer them here verbatim:  

Public schools, free from sectarian influence, have been an essential cog in American democracy, providing students with basic education in civics together with real-world interactions with those beyond their own ethnic, religious and socioeconomic worlds.

That is not to say that addressing the needs of public education is easy. We live in a society that does not value its teachers. Teachers and administrators face stubborn bureaucracies, perpetual funding battles and, at times, unreasonable unions. Some of the most talented teachers finally give up and pursue other, more lucrative careers. In this context, diverting money into private schools sounds like a quick fix. It sidesteps the hard work and the investments required to reclaim the noble legacy of public education in America. But these schemes are myopic and chimerical, especially at a time when we face the challenges of pluralism as never before. I wish I could say that this is not a partisan issue, but I fear it is. The secretary of education for the previous administration devoted her life to the destruction of public schools and relentlessly pursued the evisceration of public education. For decades, Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have deprived schools and their teachers of the resources they need to succeed, often under the pretext of tax cuts that were typically targeted toward the affluent.

Then, after years of starving those schools, these same cynical politicians circle back like vultures to declare public education a failure and propose remedies that would finish off the destruction of one of America’s best ideas.

He concludes with a single sentence that I sincerely hope is true… but fear might get lost in the larger struggle for democracy itself: “The fight for public education, moving now to the states, is far from over”. 

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