So what brought me here was an column by Paul Krugman in the NY Times. (Unfortunately there was no permalink for it so read it while you can.)
There is a conservative think-tank called the Heritage Foundation. It, naturally, believes that private industry can provide better services than government institutions can. Mr. Krugman asks the question,
"Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a press release attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents could afford to send them to private school should be entitled to free government-run education.
They’d have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes do send their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-age children subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace the private sector: if public schools weren’t available, many families would pay for private schools instead.So let’s end this un-American system and make education what it should be — a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise."
And, we'd all say, what?
But, that is what the Heritage Foundation is saying, in a press release, about expanding health coverage for children.
Mr. Krugman continues,
"The truth is that there’s no difference in principle between saying that every American child is entitled to an education and saying that every American child is entitled to adequate health care. It’s just a matter of historical accident that we think of access to free K-12 education as a basic right, but consider having the government pay children’s medical bills “welfare,“ with all the negative connotations that go with that term."
So where does this lead the discussion? Well, you don't have to be a particularly deep thinker to see that if health care is privatized, what is the next big government program that can be privatized? Where are there huge sums of money to be made? Education.
How do we get there? Well, if we set up a national mandate to test students then we will have a huge system of creating tests, administering tests and scoring tests. Then, we'll have to have tutoring for those behind and, if those schools don't meet AYP, new governance. Meaning, charters or privatization. Is there money to be made in all these activities? Yes.
Okay, do I believe this is all true? Yes. Do I believe that conservatives don't care about education? No, I think they do but the leaders clearly have an agenda that may not register with the public.
We are in Washington state where we don't - for the most part - argue about teaching sex education or evolution and we don't have charter schools. But it doesn't mean that it isn't happening elsewhere and it's important to realize that it is happening. We have to decide in this country what public education means before the decision is made for us.