Monday, February 16, 2015

Parents, Your Kids Belong To The Collective and This Is But One Reason Why You Can't Practice School Choice

This video of Melissa Harris Perry went viral last year. In the video she claims children belong to society - they are products for and of their community. 

Unfortunately, at least two recent blogs against Education Savings Accounts (to be heard in the OK legislature today) point to collectivism as one reason Oklahoma can't tolerate this form of school choice. While I can agree with many things said by people populating Education circles today - especially when it comes to state mandates - THIS is not - nor ever will be - one of them. 

One blogger references another blogger,
Blogger Peter Greene explains this well: "The educated human being (good grief! they are not even referred to as students here, let alone CHILDREN) who emerges from school will become our neighbor, an employee, a parent, a spouse, a voter, a (one hopes) involved citizen, a person whose job will contribute in some way to the life of the community. Everybody who will every deal with her in any of those capacities shares the benefits of that education. They are all "customers" of public education."
This is the philosophy which bore the term, STAKEHOLDER. As soon as this terminology began to emerge in conjunction with public education it was clear it was communitarian. After all, many parents will only agree to so much in the name of their child. Consequently, their child must be tied to a 'greater good' - must be anchored as the face of humanity - in order for parents to be sold many forms of community programming that might otherwise seem a usurpation of parental rights.

Do your children interact with the public? YES. Is it the job of the school to produce citizens? NO. It is strictly the job of the parent. Are all parents doing a good job at this? NO - I was a teacher for many years, I got that - but this is NOT an excuse to justify collectivism in a FREE REPUBLIC on any level. Are there non-profit organizations that help parents be better parents? YES. Should we support these as individuals? YES.

What about the notion of "involved citizen"? I guess it depends upon what kind of a citizen is desired. If it's one that believes in a collective over individual rights, I would imagine the public school system is doing a great job of that considering how little our public school students know about American government or civics - I just don't subscribe to this school of thought. 

This entire blog maintains the philosophy of America as a Democracy and posits that Big Investors are the basis for the ideals of 'school choice' because they
"do not want those parents to do things that might threaten minority rule of the rich like organizing, engaging in collective protest, exercising their democratic power to elect new school boards and demanding change in their publicly-owned schools."
First, referring to America as a 'Democracy' is a common misconception of those who do not understand - or believe in - the concept of American Constitutional government. America is a Constitutional Republic with democratic elections for our representation in government, held together by the rule of law. A true Democracy is at best, mob rule by a majority - a collective. This is NOT what our Founders intended, yet even Oklahoma's own History Standards perpetuate this lie. 

Secondly, I most certainly couldn't be labeled rich, or privileged, but I guess I'm not a collectivist because I don't understand the notion that the STATE can do a better job than individuals in any area involving personal choice. I guess I believe in individual rights as given by God and enumerated in the Constitution because I believe in the right of the individual to fail and/or succeed and as such, learn. 

(At this point the argument will turn to roads and bridges and ambulance service - oh wait, that's privately owned - to make the point that society operates as a collective for different reasons. Yes. That is true. Roads are necessity for commerce from which all residents benefit. Fire/Police service protect and defend the safety of all residents in an orderly society protected by a Constitution. How again do children fit into this picture? Conflating children and the public good is dishonest because roads/bridges/police/fire services do not have human characteristics. You simply can't take a human being with individual rights and self-awareness and slap them into a societal mold because they will - ostensibly - eventually come out to be firemen/policemen/civil engineers to perpetuate the public good.)

I'm told over and over that public education is a societal right which precludes my right as a parent to withdraw my child from the system with the money the state attaches to my child for a public education. After all, apparently I'm rich enough to pay for a state education I don't use and a homeschool education I do because the one the public offers is not appropriate for my children or family. This thought alone is massively frustrating because the public school system is producing high school graduates that can't read or do math, ostensibly because there isn't enough money in the system. Public K-12 education in Oklahoma already uses 51% of the entire budget. How much money is ever enough money to produce educated students?

I'm also told over and over that the Oklahoma Constitution provides for a 'system of free public schools' and we must obey the Constitution. The Oklahoma Constitution also specifies that public education includes only those aged from EIGHT (8) to SIXTEEN (16) years of age. This is the point, however, at which the Constitution is ignored by those citing the previous statute. If Oklahoma taxpayers were to stop paying for pre-K and Kindergarten services based on the Oklahoma Constitution, there would be screaming loud enough to be heard on the moon and it wouldn't just come from parents. 

As I've said numerous times, people are entitled to their opinions and I'll certainly stand for their ability to voice them - and so will I. Collectivist thought is not only antithetical to my belief system, it's counter to the thought process that created this country. I shun it on every level because it is dangerous on every level. Collectivist thought is responsible for global atrocities such as ethnic cleansing, it destroys work ethic and allows the state to believe they can make decisions for parents against the parent's beliefs or wishes.

My religious beliefs are most certainly up for derision by secularists and those who don't agree, but according to these, my children are gifts from God and I am to "Train them up in the way they should go so they should not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Christians are also told, "Children, obey [your] parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord. (Colossians 3:20) Please note, the word "public school" or "community" or any other term is present in that statement. 

Oklahoma should provide some kind of publicly-supported education for those that endeavor to use it. I'm also for eliminating public school (state and federal) mandates that force compliance while usurping money from the classroom, putting school officials in the impossible bind of having to educate more and more children with less and less classroom funding. I'm certainly willing to pay a portion of my taxes toward a 'public' education. It seems beyond eternally 'fair', however, that if the public system is not appropriate for my children, I should be able to keep some of those monies designated for their public instruction to the instruction I choose as a parent. If public schools are providing the best educational service, it doesn't make sense to me that public school officials would oppose the right of a parent to choose the education best for their child. After all, how much money would really be removed from the system in that case?

It seems to me that, so long as public schools are responding to their districts and not state/federal money-sucking mandates, school officials should be happy for parents to choose the education best for their child/children. Maybe the fight shouldn't be against 'choice in education' but mandates in education. Maybe that's where individuals from opposing world-view philosophies should work together to make public school changes for the betterment of Oklahoma parents, students, teachers, administrators and tax-payers. Seems fair to me.