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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 13, 2005 / 4 Iyar, 5765

Politicized public schools have forfeited their right to exist

By David Gelernter


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Discussions of school choice and vouchers nearly always assume that public schools are permanent parts of the American educational scene. Increasingly I wonder why. Why should there be any public schools?


I don't ask merely because the public schools are performing badly, although (as usual) they are. Pamela R. Winnick discusses science teaching in a recent issue of Weekly Standard. One survey found that a whopping 12% of graduating U.S. seniors were "proficient" in science. Global rankings place our seniors 19th among 21 surveyed countries.


Agreed: The national interest requires that all children be educated and that all taxpayers contribute. But it doesn't follow that we need public schools. We need military aircraft; all taxpayers help pay for them. Which doesn't mean that we need public aircraft companies. (Although if American airplanes ranked 19th best out of 21 contenders, the public might be moved to do something about it.) Schools aren't the same as airplane factories, but the analogy is illuminating.


What gives public schools the right to exist? After all, they are no part of the nation's constitutional framework. Neither the Constitution nor Bill of Rights requires public schools. And in one sense they are foreign to American tradition. Europeans are inspired by state institutions. Americans are apt to be inspired by private enterprise, entrepreneurship, choice.


I believe that public schools have a right to exist insofar as they express a shared public view of education. A consensus on education, at least at the level of each state and arguably of the nation, gives schools the right to call themselves public and be supported by the public. Once public schools stop speaking for the whole community, they are no different from private schools. It's not public schools' incompetence that have wrecked them. It's their non-inclusiveness.


American public schools used to speak for the broad middle ground of American life. No longer. The fault is partly but not only theirs. A hundred years ago, a national consensus existed and public schools did their best to express it. Today that consensus has fractured, and public schools have made no effort to rebuild it.


To find out where things stood 100 years ago, check the celebrated 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1910). "The great mass of the American people are in entire agreement as to the principles which should control public education." No one would dare say that today.


"Formal instruction in manners and morals is not often found" in American public schools, the Britannica explained, "but the discipline of the school offers the best possible training in the habits of truthfulness, honesty, obedience, regularity, punctuality and conformity to order."


The broad national agreement that made such statements possible no longer exists. Americans today disagree on fundamentals — on the ethics of sexuality and the family, for example. Recently the Boston Globe described an argument at a Massachusetts kindergarten over a book for young children about "multicultural contemporary family units," including gay and lesbian ones. One 6-year-old's father arrived at school to insist on his right to withdraw his child from class on days when this book was on the program. School administrators "urged" him to leave and, when he didn't, had him arrested. (JWR contributor Michelle Malkin's blog pointed me to the story.) Lately there have been other similar incidents in the news.


Then there are parents like my wife and me. We sent our children to public and not private secondary school exactly so they'd become part of a broad American community. Instead, our boys have been made painfully aware nearly every day of their school lives that they are conservative and their teachers are liberal. Making parents feel like saps is one of the few activities at which today's public schools excel.


Public schools used to invite students to take their places in a shared American culture. They didn't allow a left- or right-wing slant, only a pro-American slant: Their mission, after all, was to produce students who were sufficiently proud of this country to take care of it.


Today's public schools have forfeited their right to exist. Let's get rid of them. Let's do it carefully and humanely, but let's do it. Let's offer every child a choice of private schools instead.


And if this kind of talk makes public schools snap to and get serious, that's OK also. But don't hold your breath.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



Yale professor David Gelernter is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, Jerusalem. To comment, please click here.


05/06/05: The Law of Loopholes in Action
04/29/05: The ‘We're Smart, You're Dumb’ Principle
04/22/05: To Dems, it's 1974 forever
04/18/05: Turning American soldiers into an out-of-sight, out-of-mind servant class who are expected to do their duty and keep their mouths shut


© 2005, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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