One thing I've always admired about Republicans is their ability with messaging. Take a complicated issue, boil it down to a dark reduction of few words, misleading though they may be. Empty the subject of all meaning, until it fits perfectly inside the head of a teabagger. Abortion: pro-life. Raising taxes: punishing success. School vouchers: let me choose
my future. Democrats, meanwhile, partially because they acknowledge complexities, partly because they care about actually workable solutions which of necessity require lots of words, party because they're nothing if not disorganized, and partly because they're painfully inept, would lose the bumper-sticker wars if they were claiming the sun is hot.
Once again putting first things last, newly enabled by the recent elections based on fear and disinformation, teabaggRs are turning their attention to one of the above: school vouchers
I'll admit from the outset: I'm a little prejudiced in favor of public schools. I had the good fortune to attend nothing but good ones, including the first high school in the US to offer four years of Russian (you know, when such things as language were valued), of which I partook. My wife has been on the local school board for fourteen years, in a district where more than fifty languages are native-spoken; and I've seen from close up how devoted to and successful they are at engaging and attending to all the kids, from ESL to alternative high schools, to remedial programs, to gifted and accelerated ones. All that, despite the punitive and paradoxical demands of NCLB.
From my cynical point of view -- born of a keen sense of reality, I'd argue -- the school voucher movement is mainly and mostly about getting the rest of us to pay for religious education. Whether it be overtly religious, or merely the Texas-style pushing of right-wing anti-science and ahistorical propaganda, it's the same thing: teabaggRs want their kids to be as clueless as they are. They want their kids systematically robbed of the ability to think for themselves, lest they acknowledge reality. Not to mention they don't want them hanging around with any non-white or non-Xtian or non-hetero or immigrant kids.
And they want me to pay for it.
Well, they argue, as it stands, kids are already being propagandized, in public schools; and, on some level, I'd agree it's true, by some definition. They're being taught to open their minds, to accept differences among people. They're being taught science which is discordant with biblical literalism. And, yes, they're being taught a version of American history that's at odds with the tricorner
view. The version that includes certain truths that might cool hot tea.
You can lead a teabag to water but it won't dip itself. I think it's important to a society that wants to move forward to have curious and original and open-minded people, ones in whom their education has been sewing seeds rather than digging up roots; and replacing them with petrification. There are plenty of examples of societies in which the latter occurs; need I mention them
In this society, an obligation to provide public education has always been paramount. There's plenty of room for arguing what constitutes proper education; and it's certainly true that we're failing to provide it for many. On the other hand, I'd argue our brightest are as bright as any; and the data that show us failing include our attempts to educate all, including -- especially -- the ones that most surely will not be attending teabagger-planned voucher-based schools.
Which, of course, is the teabaggRs' point: we don't want our kids slowed down by those, you know, other kinds of children. It's not wholly unreasonable. Indeed, it'd be easier to argue against vouchers if we weren't being overtaken by those to whom any tax is anathema, by whose votes public education is being forced into further decline. (Almost as if that's their aim, huh?) But what's their end point? Poorly-funded public schools, containing only the hardest to educate, attracting the least interested teachers (there'll always be exceptions but how many?) And fancy private schools, basking in high selectivity and low accountability, cranking out creationist global-warming deniers who believe Paul Revere was protecting the Second Amendment by ringing bells.
We can't keep people from building schools and bathing their kids in mindlessness. But from where I sit, we shouldn't have to pay for it. Teabaggers have plenty of sources for funding their schools, including the billionaires behind their so-called grass-roots movement, and the ones getting tax breaks from their monetary dogmata. Without a public nickel, they could be swimming in cash. So go where the money is. Keep your hands in their pockets, where they've always been, whether you knew it or not. (Takes a better education than you want, to have noticed.)