Almost without fail, whenever there’s an article or blog post that attacks the “public” school system, you get some goo-goo type who chimes in with “but when all the schools are privatized, how are the poor going to get an education?” Now, to be fair, I realize that in most cases this isn’t meant as some kind of blanket endorsement of the school system in its current configuration; it’s based more on an assumption that the likely alternative to shitty schools is no schools, and, given these two choices, shitty schools win by default. For my part, I’m inclined to believe that herding a bunch of kids into dysfunctional day prisons is worse than pretty much any alternative, but I’m an incurable romantic and an incurable cynic, and therefore somebody who definitely does not have to be taken seriously on the subject.
Anyhow, here’s a pretty standard-issue analysis of “the problem with the schools,” which I heard on my local NPR affiliate on my way in to work this morning. The gist is that “we” pay teachers at posh suburban schools too much money, and “we” don’t pay teachers at tough inner-city schools enough money; now all we have to do is pay the city teachers more money and, voila!, a happier and more productive—not to mention civic-minded!—citizenry. It’s endlessly fascinating to me how this kind of tripe passes the laugh test, while the suggestion that maybe the system itself is the problem is merely the feckless jabbering of arrested adolescence.
There is no “we,” asswipe. I’m sure there are plenty of good liberals in these affluent suburban school districts, people who take it for granted that “society” should pay for the education of the underprivileged, but watch how quickly they circle the Volvos at the slightest hint of any policy that might threaten little Reilly or Shane’s ability to get a leg up in the college admissions sweepstakes. There’s no problem with the school system. It’s working just fine for them.