By Wayne William Cipriano
Mandatory public education supported by citizen-paid taxes is the most important factor in a democratic republic – even more important than elections by secret ballot or jury trials.
My argument for this position is very simple: if we are not exposed to the truth, if we are not trained to recognize the truth – what information is the truth and what is bull – any voting power we may unleash, any control we exert over our government as juries cannot be correctly applied.
Some of us, a significant minority, did time in private schools of various types, but the very large majority of us attended mandatory publicly-funded institutions. Without those institutions where would we be as a society? How well would we perform the duties of responsible family members, citizens, human beings had we not utilized public education or attended other intel-lectual training spurred on by and compared against public education?
And were we to do away with publicly-funded mandatory educa-tion across the states, what would the remaining private educational insti-tutions look like? Who would they educate? What would they cost individual families desiring to educate their members? Against what scale of academic achievement would such private schools be evaluated?
Can public education be improve-ed? Good gracious, YES! When we look down from Perfection upon present day public education, we look a long, long, way. But when we look upward from the Chaos of an uneducated society, or the oligarchy of a society that educates only a very small number of its members, we can easily detect the blessings mandatory public education offers, and in some cases actually delivers to those of us who benefitted from it and now fund it through our taxes.
Recently we have seen several examples of a startling shift in the reflected importance of mandatory public education, but none is more revealing than the elevation to the position of Secretary of Education, a Cabinet post in the federal govern-ment, of Betsy DeVos.
This person was shown, during her public examination by Congress of her credentials and attitudes, to know very little indeed about this crucially important responsibility of our government for which we pay so much and a tragic disinclination to learn any more. The idea of placing such a person at the head of a cabinet department which deals most specifically with the public education of our society reflects just how deeply our faith in this single most important duty has been shaken and how eager many of us are to substitute darn near anything for this system we regard as a failing one.
I see many parallels among public education and some of the other socialist programs we embrace. Medicare and Medicaids, Social Security, fire and police protection, the international security we enjoy due to our Armed Forces, our legal system, and so forth, all of which could easily embark on a steady climb upwards toward Perfection and continue that journey for quite a while.
But, which of these programs would we discontinue due to their monumental inefficiency, paralyzing bureaucracy, or ridiculous expense and rely on each of our own individual abilities and proclivities to provide their benefits to our families, our society?
Talk is cheap. And cheapest when that babbling carries no weight of responsibility. But when we are in charge, when we must make decisions and carry the responsibility for those decisions, talk and later actions take on a mantle of significance we could easily eschew when we were “outside” shouting “in.”
Mandatory public education is in no danger of disappearing just because a populist leader found a sensitivity that could be plucked for political gain or only because one person has temporarily been placed in charge of “fixing” that sensitivity without the tools or the desire to do so. But, each time we turn down the stupendously difficult job of reform-ing and rededicating mandatory public education by these flagrantly silly at best, culturally suicidal at worst behaviors by those we have chosen to shoulder responsibilities, we not only curse the present class of students that will soon be doing our country’s work for us, but we con-demn our country and those to whom we leave it to an even more horren-dous job of remediation.
Mandatory public education is one of the very few things without which our country could have arrived at the position we now occupy. If we do not demand that this absolutely necessary function of our society continues to improve, if we exempt ourselves from evaluating that improvement frequently and rigor-ously, if we turn our backs on it, the result will be glacially irreversible, the fault will be ours alone, and the terrible consequences will be meted out to our progeny.