Re: The Washington Post "Dissing Darwian"

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Fri Jun 03 2005 - 23:46:48 EDT

On Fri, 3 Jun 2005 15:26:19 -0500 Keith Miller <> writes:
> > Perhaps a more pluralistic view of public education is in order.
> One
> > model is that there could be government funding of all sorts of
> > schools--Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Islamic, New Age, Secular
> and
> > that these identities would be clearly defined so that parents
> could
> > choose the school that most fit with their personal worldviews.
> I think that this is decidedly not what this country needs. We are
> already a country increasingly divided and polarized by race,
> wealth,
> religion and politics. All this will do is further isolate and
> compartmentalize our culture. It also would, I believe, threaten to
> leave the poor and minorities concentrated and segregated into their
> own schools. This is already happening with the decay of city
> centers
> and the flight to suburbia. It is these needy districts that need
> the
> most resources and financial help. Moving public dollars to private
> institutions would leave poor districts even poorer because they
> would
> not have the resources to augment whatever public monies come their
> way. I don't see how this could avoid deepening the division
> between
> rich and poor in this country.
> Children would also receive very different qualities of education.
> If
> universal education standards were instituted across all school
> options, then you would be back to some of the same arguments over
> academic standards and assessments that we currently have.
> The greatest value of public education is that it is public. It
> forces
> the interaction of people with different worldviews, different
> cultures, different languages, races, etc. That is why we so value
> the
> public schools here in Manhattan, Kansas. Ian's classmates
> represent a
> wide range of nationalities and cultures, there are kids who are
> professors children, and kids from low income families. I want Ian
> to
> experience that diversity -- to learn to know and be friends with
> kids
> very different from him. I am very concerned about our American
> culture that has become more intolerant, more selfish, and more
> nationalistic. The only way to live transforming lives in our world
> is
> to live in it -- not hide among those who look like and think like
> us.
> Public education does that -- or at least has the capacity to do
> that.
> Keith
Besides the mentioned Balkanization, which is noticeable here with the
number of "Latinos" around, there is a further problem in securing
teachers for the exploding number of schools demanded by Terry's
suggestion. In many parts of the country there are overcrowded
classrooms, partly because those with a little intelligence can make more
money in other occupations with less hassle. By the way, the hassle is
steadily getting worse. I see little desire to raise funding to secure
more and better teachers. In the best of all possible worlds there would
be plenty of money to supply excellent teaching meeting the needs of
scientific, religious, philosophical, ethnic/cultural and whatever other
elements are relevant. But that still leaves the problem of dealing with
contradictory demands from the commitments in these various areas. There
is a majority declaring that truth (that is, my or our truth) must be
inculcated in all. I think it was Mark Twain who remarked that truth is
so precious that it is used sparingly. This does not apply to "my truth."
Ignorance, even invincible ignorance, is always available in quantity.
Received on Fri Jun 3 23:52:18 2005

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