Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I can't vote Republican

There is no issue that I put more emphasis on than education. Above and beyond any other position or principle, it is education that has, does, and will define our country as a success or a failure. Our freedom and legal requirement for all citizens to be taught is a right that defines us and separates us from nations we tend to see as oppressive. A country is defined by how it treats the least of its citizens, those least able to help or provide for themselves, and it speaks volumes of our humanitarian roots that we have so focused historically on education.

That being my mindset, I believe we should spare no expense in the education of our future, our children, and the continuing education of our workforce by making higher education affordable for everyone. I believe that public school is the shining light of our nation, but that it has become bogged down with standards and has become ineffectual at its purpose. And who has perpetuated this? Who has pushed for education reforms and national standards?

Republicans.

The sick irony in this is that, as a whole, conservatives tend to devalue education, to the point where its defunding has become a platform and talking point. The cons emphasize their family values, push for home education, and complain about how "brainwashing" our schools have become. Yet, instead of looking to fix the problem, the exacerbate by passing legislation like NCLB, which makes schools even less effective. They call for the slashing of education funding, and then go to rallies and say that public education is failing our children. Hypocrisy all around.

The result of this continued destruction of our education is a move toward home schooling. In fact, this has become a part of the GOP line, promoting old-fashioned education principles, teaching children at home where they are safe from the overwhelming standards of excellence and where parents can teach them whatever they want. They can teach them that 2+2=5, that guns are a gift from God that liberals want to take away, or that lower taxes on the rich means that those at the bottom will live happily ever after.

The problem with promoting home schooling and private schools as a better alternative to mind-altering public options is that those are not feasible for people who have to, you know, work for a living. It's a further hypocrisy of the GOP that they will come out and say they are defenders of the working class and then work for years to take away working class education. What person with a full-time job has the hours it takes to effectively school their children? What person making less than $50,000 a year has enough money to send their children to private school? Very few, if any, would be able to stomach that, but that is what is being emphasized by Republicans.

NCLB standards are being ramped up again this year, so that things that were taught in 5th grade this year are being taught in 4th next year. So, the child who is now in 3rd grade will be learning 5th grade level concepts in about six months. Oh, and do you remember that scientific method from school? The several steps to perform a scientific experiment? I learned it in 7th grade. Children now learn it in 1st. This has got to stop.

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