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Criticizing Public Schools: An Exercise in Futility?
By David W. Kirkpatrick (June 12, 2008)
Senior Education Fellow
U.S. Freedom Foundation www.freedomfoundation.us

Perhaps no institution is so criticized to such little effect as the public schools.  For example:
         "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.  Beatrix Potter p. 225, Ted Goodman, Ed., The Forbes Book of Business Quotations, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 1997
         "I never let my schooling interfere with my education." and  "It used to take me all vacation to grow a new hide in place of the one they flogged off me during the school term." Mark Twain, p. 237, "Ted Goodman. Op. cit.
         "It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it."  Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, 1975 TV series
         "The successful school superintendent today – no reflection on that rare and admirable breed – survives basically thorough media skills, gimmicks, and political maneuver ... the big-city school superintendency is broken, it can't be fixed." Nathan Glazer, Harvard Graduate School of Education, "Do We Need Big-City School Superintendents?", p. 36, Education Week, March 18, 1992.
         "Americans who could not read or write a simple message in any language in 1900: 10.7 percent. Americans who were functionally illiterate in 1993: 21 percent."  "By the Numbers," p. 83, U.S. News & World Report, August 28/September 4, 1995
         "(T)he only creaming going on in charters is that of teachers," Tom Cammeret. Washington, D.C., The Center for Education Reform, Monthly Newsletter No. 25, April 1996
         "But educators' claims to scientific knowledge have no foundation. There is no such thing as educational science...Those who have wanted to control the lives of others have always claimed to know exactly what others need. They have always believed that their plans represent order and public-mindedness, as opposed to the chaos that would ensue without them." Bruce Goldberg, "A Liberal Argument for School Choice," The American Enterprise, September/October 1996
         "The case for school vouchers is the classic case of consumers against monopolies ... By embracing school choice– if not everywhere, then at least somewhere–liberals could at one stroke emancipate...schoolchildren while also emancipating liberalism ..." Jonathan Rauch, "TRB from Washington," The New Republic, November 10, 1997
         "Of the top 10 states with the highest percentage increase in per-pupil expenditures over the past 20 years, not one also appeared in the top 10 for academic achievement. Similarly, no state that appeared in the top 10 for decreases in pupil-to-teacher ratio also appeared in the top 10 for academic achievement." Krista Kafer, "ALEC Issues Report Card on U.S. Education," pp 1 & 13, School Reform News, February 2003
         "It's a culture that does not put children first, a culture that's more concerned about power and control and making sure the adults get paid.' T.J. Bucholz, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, reflecting on possible reasons that administrators and bookkeepers in 10 different districts recently have been caught or accused of embezzling money from the state's schools." p. 9, Teacher Magazine, February 2003
         "In 1929 most American schools had one teacher and 87 pupils." p. 58, Christopher Berry, "School Inflation," pp 56-62, Education Next, Fall 2004. Today the average public school has about 30 teachers and 500 students.
         "The work that the schoolmaster is doing is inestimable in its consequence. He is laying the foundation of the careers of men who are to lead the next generation. He is also knocking all the best stuff out of a great number of them." Stephen Leacock
         "The organization's (PTA) refusal to stand with parents who want to take authority back from the education establishment has created a breach with its constituents that may be irreparable ... They say they represent children and parents but their money is going to fight against parental choice. They think parents are unqualified to make decisions about their children's education." Alise Dobrot, PTO member, Linden, Michigan
         "America's decision to have its public schools funded by a government monopoly is stunningly stupid. Having a union-dominated monopoly run them is even stupider.  Unionized monopolies create ossified, bloated bureaucracies that don't serve people well." p. 107, John Stossel, Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, NY: Hyperion, 2006

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"I know a good many men of great learning–that is, men born with an extraordinary eagerness and capacity to acquire knowledge.  One and all, they tell me they can't recall learning anything of value in school." --H.L. Mencken, quoted, p. 665, Clifton  L. Hall, et al, Readings in American Education, Chicago: Scott, Foresman Co., 1963

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Copyright 2008 David W. Kirkpatrick
108 Highland Court,
Douglassville, Pennsylvania 19518-9240
Phone: (610) 689-0633

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