Letter: How can democracy work without public schools?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Regarding “Changing Classrooms: Buncombe County Schools Enrollment Drops as Nontraditional Options Grow,” Aug. 25, Xpress:] The public school system in the United States is what has made it possible for this nation of immigrants to learn about the lives of others and to learn about the foundations of our republic.

Most parents themselves do not have the knowledge or interest in American history, ethics or philosophy to enhance their children’s lives. All they do is pass on their own misconceptions of what they think they learned 10 or more years before and the limited horizons of their daily life, earning a living and residing among people just like themselves. How will their children learn about their peer group — the differences in the cultural life of their community or of people who have had different life experiences?

Schools, like military service, put a person into an environment in which differences of beliefs, history and experience become part of their knowledge. How else can a democracy work if we are all only in our pods, neighborhood, religious institution, club? If we don’t understand each other, how can we become a community and work together, united and working for the common good?

Without knowing each other, how will this nation survive — each group seeing everyone else as other and therefore a threat to one’s life? The schools may need help, better-educated teachers, more money for students in every district, not just one’s own, but without some commonly accepted knowledge, how will our nation survive?

— Frances Myers


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5 thoughts on “Letter: How can democracy work without public schools?

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Hilarious Headline !!! Yep, it’s the mindset of the clueless masses so get your child into that vortex of EVIL now. The evil teachers’ unions have turned ‘educators’ into the enemy.

  2. indy499

    Interesting argument. Parents, more of whom attended public school than is the case today, have knowledge or interest in American history, ethics or philosophy. Yet public schools are going to preform differently today. Huh.

    And regarding $, we spend nearly 3 times as much per public school student k-12 (inflaction adjusted) as we did 40 years ago. The ole, if we only spent more money chant is absurd.

    • luther blissett

      “The ole, if we only spent more money chant is absurd.”

      That’s Baumol’s cost disease, though.

      It takes as many people to play a Mozart string quartet today as it did 40 years ago (or in the 1780s) but it costs a lot more for them to do it and for people to attend a concert. It takes as many people to cut your hair today as it did 40 years ago, but it costs more for a haircut. Inflation reflects the cost of goods and not services, which makes it a deceptive indicator here. There are factors that magnify the rising costs of those labor-intensive services that have limited room for productivity growth, but it’s mostly just the nature of the beast.


      • indy499

        Baumol’s argument, of course, is that wages go up for activities like haircuts because barbers have alterntives in arenas that have had productivity gains. Substitutability drives up barber wages.

        That has little if anything to do with the reality that we spend 3x as much per student as we did 40 years ago, inflation adjusted. I can’t think of another activity for which the product—student education— is much inferior and produced at a much higher cost.

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