Public Education, Not Based On Profit, Is Essential to Democracy

I posted the following comments on two separate columnists’ blogs from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week. My remarks are in response to another poster’s inquiry of me:
Other poster: “If the local community had garbage pick-up and you were forced to pay $40 per month, but you knew that a for-profit company would offer you better service and only charge $20 per month. . .”
First of all, education is not a public service like “garbage pick-up,” it is a field of public service that fosters the elevation of human beings – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Educators are not simply teaching facts such as that 3 x 3 = 9; they are inspiring our young to be the best that they can be in all of the areas mentioned. Do you want our young people to think that they are being used for profit, or that they are valued simply because they are human beings, equal to one another, to be cared for and nurtured to their full potential through public servants who desire only that their students reach their full potential? Is it not better to signal to students that service to one’s fellow human beings – without a profit incentive in doing so – is more to be valued in our society than value placed upon monetary gain, primarily?
That is one of the main reason I support public (not for-profit) education over education that makes a profit on its students. It is what we are teaching our young that is of value for them to emulate as we model for them, in the process of how we educate them, that matters to our nation’s future character and destiny. I have posed on this blog, previously, whether Americans will desire to perpetuate the “muscular” values of “winning, hierarchial dominance, competition, and power” over the more elevated values of “service, collaboration, intellectual and spiritual enlightenment, and egalitarianism” into America’s future. The first set of values create situations in which educational institutions (and other institutions) within our society believe that they must cheat in order to sustain their dominant power, and the latter values do not create that kind of America. They foster service to one’s country and to others as well as foster egalitarianism, the principle upon which this nation was built.
Furthermore, it appears to me that you have bought into the Republican negative propaganda about public school education. “Ludicrous amounts of money” have not been spent on public education in spite of Republican talking points. In fact, in Georgia alone, over 4 billion dollars have been cut from public education in the last decade. How can traditional public education improve as citizens’ desire, with such deep cuts happening, yearly? Even if some in Georgia’s Republican leadership state that educational funding has not been cut more than funding to other governmental agencies, I believe – and have observed – that our Republican leaders had cut funding to most of Georgia’s governmental agencies, including education, even before the Great Recession began. Their rigid ideological thinking, imo, has hurt many families and children in Georgia because of its severity. I believe that this regressive thinking has, also, kept Georgia behind economically and has kept Georgia from moving progressively in innovative thinking toward more growth possibilities instead of simply thinking toward more cuts to government. (Furthermore, state workers buy goods and services from private enterprise markets in Georgia so that when these state workers are laid off, all Georgians pay the consequences, not only in their reduced services, but because more of the state’s population, being out of work, are not able to buy as much from others in the private markets.) We are all interconnected whether we acknowledge this truth or not. How much better, spiritually and economically, it would be for Georgians to at least acknowledge that truth. One primary source of educational problems has been poverty. The state must, again, more fervently address this issue, aside from its educational impact.
Moreover, the national Republican ideological agenda has been to disparage traditional public schools so that more private educational corporations (based on profit) can move into the educational field/market. Studies, such as the Stanford Study, have shown that charter schools on the average do not fare better than traditional public schools, and many do not perform as well as do traditional public schools. Some are of poor quality. Some are not even monitored for quality. So, I do not buy into Republican propaganda regarding the overall poor quality of traditional public education. Many traditional public schools remain excellent schools.
However, traditional public education does need to change and improve, but it needs to do so, primarily, from within through fully understanding and implementing sound instructional principles such as (1) mastery learning, (2) continuous academic progress of each student according to his or her potential to master instructional concepts at point in time, (3) improving discipline, and (4) supporting of teachers in achieving those ends. Public charter schools might help to improve traditional public education, also, but they must work in collaboration with local school districts and traditional public schools, not in competition against them. Most importantly, their ultimate goal must be to improve the calibre of students under their care, not the financial gain of their proprietors.”
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