Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why We've Always Needed Public Schools

An excellent new report, "Why We Still Need Public Schools" (pdf) from the Center on Education Policy examines public education from a historical and philosophical perspective. The report provides an historical basis for the many ills our contemporary society expects schools to address, and if I may be bold, expects that schools should CURE. Of course at tension here is that not everyone expects schools to address all these ills or, more positively, needs. Many people see the schools as the nursery of industry and global competition, not an interest bearing account for good citizenship and morality.

"Why We Still Need Public Schools" suggests like so many have before it that exclusion is the likeliest outcome of privatization of education. Statistics like these speak volumes about how inclusive public education is: "Ninety-eight percent of students with disabilities are educated in public schools, while only 1% are educated in private schools" and "Forty-three percent of public school students are minority children, compared with 24% of private school students." I think the inclusiveness of public education is something most of us take for granted. It is the inclusiveness of public schools that provides its greatest strengths. The report suggests that inclusion is at peril in privatization.

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