Budget & Tax, Education

This is real public education

March 7, 2017

Trent England

Two Oklahoma students have won the right to travel to Washington, D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The winners from the state’s regional spelling bees would seem to represent some of the very best of education in Oklahoma. If we want an educated public in the future, these are two success stories, right?

Not so fast. Somehow, when the phrase “public education” gets thrown around, students like these are usually left out. One winner, 8th grader Rohan Rajeev, attends a private Christian school. The other, Edith Fuller—at 5 years old, she is the youngest regional winner in Oklahoma history—is home schooled. These two students and their families are not only excluded from some people’s definition of “public education,” they are discriminated against in Oklahoma law.

Tax dollars are collected to educate these students. Government departments are erected to educate these students. And when they succeed, we all benefit. And, of course, the politicians will claim some of the credit for their success and collect even more in taxes. But today in Oklahoma, public education is not really about creating an educated public. The mission of public education is not to create an educated public, but to perpetuate a particular system.

Defenders of the public education status quo are like a film critic who insists that what matters is not the plot, not the acting, but that the movie is on VHS tape. For more on this topic, we talked about it this morning on The Trent England Show.