Can you imagine a 90-minute block of uninterrupted
time for kindergarten children to study reading?
There are only about one out of 100 adults who
could manage such a learning system. Oh, I forgot
to tell you. That reading plan was for struggling
Iowa students many with poor attention spans.
There’s much more. Extremist Republican governors
are doing a good job destroying the excellent
public school education we have known since
World War II. You know, the education system
which helped create what is considered by many,
including historians, as the greatest middle
class in history. Many of you younger folk may
not have heard of the “GI Bill.” That government
program, giving G.I.’s a chance to move themselves
successfully back into society after the war,
is considered by many as the best education
program ever created. Period. The GI Bill and
the public school system together have served
the United States very well over the years.
And they both continue to do so.
Guess what? Republican extremists are labeling
both as socialistic, something to be eliminated,
destroyed, to be replaced with privatization.
They want to take “socialistic” public school
money and use it for capitalistic purposes such
as private schools, parochial schools, for-profit
online schools, voucher funded schools, charter
schools and home schools. Capitalists, of the
extreme radical Right, can’t make any money
when we have socialistic public schools. They
can make lots of money if they can destroy public
schools. And they can. And they are.
Rahm Emanuel, a top dog in the Obama administration
and current mayor of Chicago, is closing 18
schools because of poor performance. Guess what?
All are in impoverished minority areas. Historically,
schools in such areas have never received enough
money to do well. Money, such as it is, goes
to white, wealthy neighborhoods — a way of life
throughout the history of the United States.
Poor schools receive less money but then are
picked on by politicians of both parties because
of poor performance. Shucks. Just another American
way of life.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum,
and others, want government out of education.
So getting rid of departments of education,
both nationally and at the state level, tops
their agendas. Getting rid of a few “bad” public
school teachers has been a priority of the Republican
leadership. If you want to see a major increase
in lousy teaching, privatization is the way
to go. Halliburton, here we come. Fraud and
crime have been minimal within the public schools
because of stability, rules and regulations.
Those are dirty words from an extreme Republican
position. You want to talk about fraud within
a complex privatization system? More Halliburton.
Most public schools are doing fine. Teachers
are fine. The Gallop Poll, year after year,
indicates that 70 percent of parents with students
in a particular school believe that school is
fine. Oh, I forgot. Good teaching and good schools
do not make news. What the media wants to hear
are the negative rants from politicians. Now
Many of you remember the mass of propaganda
President Bush used to garner public support
for his war with Iraq. Well, you better get
ready for another onslaught, because propaganda
is picking up daily.
Here in Iowa, there is more gubernatorial subtlety
when it comes to educational change, but the
propaganda mill is moving forward and gaining
speed. Republicans are doing their best to make
you believe that education, nationally, is in
We’ll find out how much of a crisis in November.
John Hicks is a resident of Des Moines and
professor emeritus at Drake University.