Monday, January 16, 2006

And education makes three . . .

First, there was gay marriage. Then came immigration. And now education. Tim Pawlenty, or TWedge as Spot likes to call him, pulled out this latest political meat clever in the form of his 70% solution for schools, up from last year’s 65%. It is awfully clear that the Republicans in Minnesota are just out to distract the electorate from core economic issues in an election year. Not that Spot blames them especially; he might too, if in their shoes.

Moses at The Yowling Post has a good post about the seventy percent non-solution. Spot just finished Garrison Keillor’s Homegrown Democrat, and Keillor makes several pithy comments about education, including this one on page 190:
Every child needs teachers to idolize and imitate and around the snarly age of fourteen, when our daughters look at us with pained amusement and our sons with loathing, they need teachers who can channel their anger into social criticism and turn them into crusaders and satirists, as we once were, and then they will have children of their own and become us, the tedious authoritarians, and we will become beloved and eccentric grandparents, the genial revolutionaries, working secretly with our grandchildren against our common enemy, the parents. This is how the world turns. And teachers are crucial.

When you wage war on the public schools, you're attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You're not a conservative, you're a vandal. The sorehead vote is out there, the guys who have a few beers and wonder why the hell they should have to pay taxes for the schools when their kids have graduated, What's the logic there, Joe? and you can rouse them up and elect a school board to take revenge on the teachers and you do your community no favors.

Guys like Craig Westover and John Stossel are always bemoaning the fact that kids do better in school systems in other parts of the world. Well, duh. Most of the rest of the civilized world does not raise children in the poverty-stricken environments that we do in the US. We don’t have a school problem so much as a societal problem. Sticks and Johnny (say that really fast; it sounds like the name of an Iranian politician) are oblivious to the social environments and social welfare systems in place in all these educational nirvanas.

Yes, it promises to be a long political season, filled with distraction and diversion. Spot promises to help you, gentle readers, keep your eyes on the bouncing ball.


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