Public Schools Drives the Fate of Democracy

the fate of democracy is tied to public education

This is an important reminder. We see this obvious direct relationship; this thing where public schools define the fate of democracy. This 4-minute read considers the basic causes and effects of current contentious school administration. It advocates for public schools to be reasserted as a priority in accordance with democratic principles, so democracy can persevere.

Society must work to keep its public constructs vital (health, education, etcetera), for the good of all, per democratic principles.  Of all our civil efforts, public schools are arguably the strongest determinant of democracy health. Public schooling features parents and children. This means mass involvement (good and necessary). It also means it is readily subject to untoward influence – manipulation by the privileged few.

This opinion reflects views and insights garnered from two child development professionals. Trends alarm them and their peers. They ask to remain anonymous.

American Public School Over Time

Since the republic began, those of ruling affluence have always labored over the measure of the nation’s great bounty to dole out to the common workers. Early on, with slavery in the mix and immeasurable resources, the leadership stance was ambiguous yet positive. As a republic with respect for democracy, the founders did establish proper positive intent for children, to give them rights and educate them.

One of the best minds to consider the challenges and intricacies of honoring our democracy was John Dewey (1859–1952). He provided profound insights that still resonate, such as his cited criticality for democracy to have a “fully formed public opinion”, the antithesis of today’s conspiracy theories. Dewey’s effect on public school education has left at one professional considering herself a ‘Deweyite’.

Dewey made this essential detailed case: if we lose public education, we lose the democracy. Therein lies the fate of democracy. As utilized by New England professionals on behalf of local, state, and federal agencies, Dewey’s public-school strategy, aligned with his pragmatism philosophy, enabled:

  • Satisfaction of children’s right to learn as citizens through public education;
  • Children need to be infused with obligation to learn and consequently to vote, to become contributing citizens.

So, one feature of Dewey’s theory is the recognition of education as a key way of developing skills for democratic activity. Dewey advocated for recognizing and appreciating differences as a vehicle for students to expand their experiences. He encouraged students to open up new ways of thinking rather than closing off their own beliefs and habits.

Considering Today’s Public School Contention

In olden times of plenty, it might not have been so much a worry, this control of if and how youngsters are trained. It was a simpler effort of natural love for the kids.

Now resource contention has hardened and become exclusionary. (Note: contention for, not availability of, resources.) Many people are ready to be used and undermine schools for fear-driven ideological gain, one that is not close or even veiled as democracy.

On this very day, 10/13/22, Trump got called to testify for causing an insurrection. There is a new video of an aide shuffling around boxes of government secrets. So, he continues providing great cover for all manner of injustice. Society must eradicate him to start making progress. His base (MAGA types) are the everyday transgressors to wholesome community education (those who work the street-agenda of the GOP power base, more often than not, in the name of God).

So, efforts are well underway to indoctrinate rather educate the common child. Or, as convenient in course of unfettered capitalism, just eliminated. We are witnessing it before our eyes. This extremism is a significant erosion to the fabric of American democracy. Short term, it manifests as school board fist-fights; in the slightly-longer-term, if the extremist anti-democracy force goes unchecked, it becomes anything they want or need, such as forced propaganda.

Make no mistake, this is not innocent dereliction or lack of attention on the part of the usurpers of public school. This is wanton stifling and channeling of education as a way of controlling people and, of course, making money. Right-wing agents live this as part of the “burn it down” strategy in evidence at every level. They are attempting a wholesale course correction (ill-fated) on free wholesome education.

On With the Good Fate of Democracy

Public education is a prime opportunity for restoration, if we want a functioning democracy. If not, it is the vehicle for indoctrination into the new regime. With growing openness and in growing numbers, Republicans are, if not dismantling democracy, certainly asserting that we are not to be a full-on democracy. I am of the opinion that patriotic democratic truth, and a readiness to fight for it, will find itself.

In America, parents have rights but they are not absolute. They cannot, unknowingly or by design, wrongfully utilize their children, fail to develop or nourish them, or otherwise treat them inhumanely. When the current autocrat storm passes, hopeful children are hopefully still here.

The fate of democracy is literally on the line, and there is no easy quick fix. It can be close to what it was, or better, if the rights of all children are proactively restored and supported. Right now, extremists are demonstrating that less than 50% of the people are of average intelligence. Is this not another way of making the case for public education? In any case, count on democracy and public schools to be joined at the proverbial hip.