Our local talk radio station advertises heavily that it has all of the superstars of radio.
You can start the morning by listening to Glenn Beck, then just keep the dial on the station and hear the mellow tones of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Jason Lewis.
It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but hey, the people who run these radio stations have to make a living and this particular station has done an exemplary job of keeping on top of inclement weather problems and has become involved in numerous local charitable causes, so I am not going to complain too much about its roster of so-called superstars.
Except that one of those superstars, the aforementioned Glenn Beck, wants to put me on the unemployment line, that is if he doesn’t get rid of the unemployment line first.
On his radio program Tuesday, Beck went on a rant about the evils of public education, concluding with the statement, "You’re darned right we should abolish public education."
And what would be the cardinal sin that public education has committed, according to Beck?
"We’re being indoctrinated in our schools," Beck said, without any elaboration on how this indoctrination is being done or what evil thoughts we public schoolteachers are implanting in the minds of impressionable children.
This is not the first time Beck has addressed, perhaps the better word would be created, this problem. He has devoted an entire television show to this "indoctrination," taking a handful of film clips and using them to buttress his cardboard-thin argument against public schools.
When Glenn Beck and others have targeted public education, they base this conclusion on flawed evidence:
American students have fallen behind students in other countries
Every self-serving politician who wants to garner a few votes has used this falsehood to champion calls for educational reform. What none of them ever mentions is what we should be bragging about to the entire world- We are the only nation that fights to make sure that every child, no matter what his or her socioeconomic background receives an education. In other countries, the children are divided at an early age into those who will receive higher education and those who will be delivered into the workforce. We not only provide free education from kindergarten through 12th grade, but we focus on moving a high percentage of our young people into college.
Teachers are filling children’s minds with liberal doctrine
Contrary to what Glenn Beck and other enemies of public education have claimed time after time, year after year, public schoolteachers do not spend every waking moment devising ways to turn empty-vessel schoolchildren into liberal zombies. When I teach writing to students in my eighth grade classes, I don’t care if they agree with me on even one political issue, much less all of them; my sole concern is whether these students can handle the kinds of writing that will help them succeed in high school, college, and beyond.
If you go along with Beck’s assertions, you have to believe that the vast majority of schoolteachers are wild-eyed liberals, insistent on forming everyone in their image. The political makeup of school faculties is largely dependent on the political makeup of the communities in which they live. In Joplin, Missouri, where I teach, the majority of teachers are conservative and have strong family values, even as those terms would be defined by Beck. At lunch each day, the teacher in the room next to mine listens to Rush Limbaugh. Does he teach conservative talking points during his class? Last I heard, the only thing he was teaching was eighth grade science.
Private schools and home schooling are better options for education
Beck even included a reference to the "superiority" of private schools in his rant Tuesday. How often have we heard that private schools do not have the discipline problems of the public schools, that they provide a superior education, and that a higher percentage of their graduates go on to higher education?
As with all myths that are pushed as absolute truths on our society, there is some basis in fact to this one. Private schools do not have the discipline problems that public schools have because THEY CHOOSE THEIR OWN STUDENTS.
Even the ones that pride themselves on providing scholarships to needy students, which is undeniably an admirable thing to do, are failing to point out that the students who receive those scholarships are the ones whose parents care about their children’s futures. The children who cause the most problems in public schools are often the ones whose parents have not provided the solid foundation that children need to succeed in life.
The same reasoning explains why so many of the children who attend private schools go on to higher education. That foundation is there.
Undeniably, many of those who attend private schools receive excellent training. There are superb private schools, just as there are superb public schools.
What Glenn Beck and the others who have made a cottage industry of trash-talking public education never mention is the efforts that public schoolteachers go to make sure that those children who do not have that solid foundation of parental support have the opportunity to succeed. And despite all obstacles, it is amazing how many times public schoolteachers have been able to reach these seemingly unreachable children and head them down the path to success.
While Beck and others have attacked public education at every opportunity, when public schoolteachers defend themselves, they are consistently attacked as being self-serving, union-dominated automatons who are feeding at the public trough. It is sad, and self-destructive that our nation has reached this point.
We live in an American society which has always prided itself, at least until recent years, and justifiably so, on its one-of-a-kind public education system with its guarantee that any child is welcome. Those who feel uncomfortable with that system have always had the option of home-schooling their children, or sending them to a private school. In recent years, however, the public portion of that system has been under attack, labeled as failing through No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, while proponents of funneling public tax money into private schooling and home schooling have continued to whittle away at the foundations that have provided a solid public education to generations of Americans.
The sea change Glenn Beck is recommending, one which would eliminate public schools and send our children to private schools or have them home-schooled, is far more dangerous than anything that is being taught to our children in public schools.
Glenn Beck’s vision of education would be the very definition of indoctrination.