Blow It All Up

They have been there since the beginning of the education debates, sometimes allied with reformsters and sometimes with the resistance. They don't necessarily share the long term goals of either group.

When Common Core showed its ugly face, reactions came in basically two flavors:

1) The Core is a foreign body attacking the basic nature of public education in this country; we need to drive it out of the system so public education can pursue its true nature again.

2) The Core is public education taking its mask off and revealing its true nature. It cannot be redeemed; it must all go.
OK GOP ed reform in actn
Among "conservative" Reformsters, there has always been a contingent that doesn't just want to turn education over to business, but wants to completely starve the beast. I've had folks tell me that schools should never have been run by the government, but should be a part of society run by The Church.
Others would be happy with a voucher system in place of a public education system. For these folks, the whole mission of educating Other People's Children s wrong. If Those People want an education for their children, they can damn well provide it themselves.

I use scare quotes for "conservative," because this is not a form of conservatism I really recognize-- to me, it's not very conservative to try to dismantle one of the oldest institutions in the country. But if you doubt that such Blow It All Up people exist, come with me to Oklahoma.

One county's Republican party is calling for an end to public education, though they recognize that there will need to be a transition before "letting the public assume their rightful responsibility of self-education and not allowing it to be a part of government’s role." Your kids' education is your own damn problem, and I certainly don't want to have to help pay or it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is high-grade dopiness. You do not live on an island (especially not in Oklahoma) and the uneducated children of today are your neighbors and fellow citizens tomorrow. The country that you live in is not enhanced by an influx of uneducated people.

This attitude makes as much sense as saying, "I'm not going to pay to run the sewers to the people who live uphill from me. They can just do their business in their yards. That are uphill from me." And if you want me to expand on that analogy, then, yes, I'm saying that ignorance is a form of toxic waste. In fact, instead of our usual model of imagining that education is about putting knowledge and skills into people, maybe we should think of it as draining ignorance out. Maybe that would make it clearer that only a flipping shortsighted fool would want to deny education to fellow citizens.

It's possible that the Oklahoma GOP in question isn't that stupid; it may be they want to send a message and telegraph a tough negotiating stance to those uppity teachers who went and got themselves elected. But I don't think so. After all, Betsy DeVos appears to be a member of the Blow It All Up Club.

The Blow It All Up Club itself has different factions. Some really are afraid that the government is going to make them do things and learn things that the don't want to learn and do. Some are more concerned that they government is going to take their money and spend it on nice things for people who shouldn't get nice things, and certainly not nice things that I have to pay for.

This little OK county may be an outlier, but I think we can expect to see more emboldened legislators saying, "Let's just blow the whole thing up." Keep your eyes peeled.

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