The audacity of education reformers, teachers are invertebrates who benefit keeping children poor.

John E. Coon a law professor for the University of
California is a frequent contributor in school choice circles. Usually when I
see his work I roll my eyes and move on. All of these guys usually same the same thing, public schools bad, teacher unions worse, it’s all for the children.
However something caught my eye with his most recent piece and that is he compares public
schools in the United States to public schools in Turkey.
He writes: The media report that
strong-man President Erdogan of Turkey has decided that children whose parents
cannot afford private school will soon be sent to state schools, there to be
educated in Erdogan’s own new ideal curriculum. They will be conscripted for
his vision of what every young Turk ought to believe, including the
government’s version of God and proper worship. The parents’ preference
apparently will be irrelevant.
This sounds familiar; henceforth, the primary difference
between the public schools in Istanbul and Kansas City will be found in the
ideological curriculum that gets served to the poor. In America children get
drafted for a school day that is stripped of every reference to God; their
Turkish counterparts — irrespective of the parents’ wishes — will have God
thrust upon them.  No God versus pro-God, but in any case no choice for
the poor.
Wow, he compares our system with
local boards elected by local parents, making choices, to the state system in
Turkey run by a strongman president. You know it’s the same. Also why do I get
the sinking feeling, if it was Coon’s God being taught in public schools he
would be okay with it?
Public schools serve the greater
good. They are there for everyone whether currently you have a student
attending one, had one attend long ago or never had one. In short they are for
all of us and when we dilute public schools by siphoning away resources
especially to substandard options then it does us all a disservice.
I am not saying public schools are
perfect and I am not saying there shouldn’t be more options that serve more
kid’s needs, I am however saying those options should come under the auspices
of the public school umbrella, our democracy, which school choice seeks to
trample, demands it.
Coon has a deep contempt for public
schools as many education reformers do, he makes it sound like kids are sent to
brain washing gulags staffed by the dregs of society.
Furthermore our country founded by
people fleeing religious persecution rightfully decided that religion would be
kept out of the public sector. Vouchers most of who go to religious schools
violate at the very least the spirit of the first amendment.  We should not be supplementing religious
choices which vouchers do.
Later Coon writes: I wonder whether we have our own share of
Erdogans, either somehow benefitting personally from the continued servility of
the poor or/and confident that whatever public school is teaching is the best
ideological message for our less lucky citizens who, left to their own, might
not choose it.
As for direct beneficiaries there is, of course, the union,
whose members do profit from the servility of the family. And among our
individual teachers there are those who repose in the reality that — short of
calamity — their job will be secure. They are both protected from discharge and
comforted by the predictable enrollment of children whose presence also assures
the union its dues. I don’t know about Turkey, but the servility of the
lower-income urban family is a great comfort to the invertebrate American
And there you have it, he thinks
unions, made up of teachers by the way, have some perverse incentive for
keeping communities poor. Teachers who he thinks are spineless individuals, invertebrates,
find great comfort in keeping people poor because it assures their jobs.
How does he explain successful
public schools in affluent neighborhoods? He doesn’t, he must think they are a
fluke not worthy of comment. How does he explain charters that fail, over 260
have failed in Florida over the last decade alone, he doesn’t do that either
because all those teachers unlike union teachers really care about their kids.
How does he explain the failure of the voucher program in Milwaukee? He doesn’t
because that would interfere with his public schools are terrible, union
members are terrible and choice schools and teachers are great narrative. 
Perhaps most troubling is this guy
is spouting his nonsense as law professor at a prestigious public university which
also escape his scrutiny. Public universities are just fine but public schools
are atrocious. Why does a public university let him get away with it? I am sure
there are plenty of private colleges he could go to where he could spout his
hate filled rhetoric.
There are legitimate issues in
public education, a lack of resources, over testing, the degradation of
teachers, but teachers actively conspiring to keep children ignorant and poor is
not one of them and anybody who implies so has no place in the debate.

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