Note: This post has nothing to do with religion, per se. At least, not in the sense that a person of faith would recognize.
When I tell you I’m a Republican, those of you who don’t know me most likely resort to stereotypes; I’m white, male, Christian, anti-tax, anti-big-government, pro-defense (so far so good), anti-gay (not really true), pro-life (yes, but much moreso pro-Tenth Amendment), and…
…”Anti-Education”. It’s an interesting phrase, that one; the notion of “Education” has been corrupted to refer to the institution of the educational establishment – the school boards, administrations, unions and the educational academy – in a sense that really has nothing to do with actually providing an “Education”.
So with that dichotomy understood – you’d be mostly wrong. I was, in fact, one of those Republicans who was a big proponent of public education. Oh, it had problems, things that needed to be tuned up and fixed, but it was the system we had, dagnabbit!
Education was the family business, in a sense; my mother’s parents were both teachers, and my sister works in the system as well. I even thought – briefly – about a career in education while in college, although that lasted about three days.
Most of all, my father was a teacher for the better part of four decades – and a great one at that. Dad taught English, Literature and (best of all) Speech. Strangers as well as friends of mine stop by years – now, decades – later and tell me he was the best teacher they’d ever had. If every teacher were like Dad was – if every school district and administration let people like Dad teach, for that matter – we wouldn’t have an education crisis in this country.
You’ll note that everything in the previous couple of paragraphs is in the past tense. I was a proponent. Ten years ago, I was as strong a supporter of public education as one could find in the GOP.
That’s changed. The public education system in Saint Paul and Minnesota has taken a guy who was once a firm friend, and turned him into an implacable, remorseless enemy for life. And it has little to do with politics – indeed, the GOP is almost (but not quite) as clueless as the DFL when it comes to education. But it goes way deeper than that.
And now that both of my kids are at long last out of the public system, I’m going to tell their story, and mine.
There are going to be a number of parts to the story, probably two episodes a week for a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.