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Read me for five minutes and you know one problem that gets in my grill is when "journalists" fail to make the public smarter about issues of great importance (like how their government runs). Such is the case today with a new anti-school choice hit piece by @valeriestrauss.

2] The first sign of trouble is in her headline: "Betsy DeVos and her allies are trying to redefine ‘public education."

She says Florida's Gov. Desantis wants to "redefine" public ed because he says “Look, if it’s public dollars, it’s public education.”

3] At the start of Strauss' piece she quotes Pres. Ulysses S. Grant who says "Leave the matter of religion to the family circle, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions."

Public money for common state schools only.
4] Strauss should inform her readers that Grant - sometimes cited to be among the worst of all presidents - was speaking in the context of anti-immigration fears and anti-Catholic sentiment. Prior to this, there was no permanent firewall between home, church, and school.
5] Strauss says: "That was long the consensus of what “public education" means in the United States: common schools open to all and funded, operated and governed by the public through local governments."

That's ahistorical, or at least misleading.
6] The American educational tradition was based on educational pluralism, not systemic uniformity (and certainly not a state monopoly). Today, the U.S. is an outlier in its stubborn pursuit of the one-best-system and the one-size-should-fit-all strategy.

7] Back to DeSantis. Him saying “if it’s public dollars, it’s public education" is truer than Strauss' opposition to it. She cites various sources who provide gelatinous definitions of what makes a school "public," each ignoring the one thing that makes a school public: The Law.
8] All schools are entities defined one way or another by laws authored, voted on, and passed by the democratically elected representatives of a state's voters. Argue that charter schools and voucher schools *shouldn't* be part of the public ecosystem, but you aren't the law.
9] Example: Massachusetts defines charters as "Authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Education Reform Act of 1993, charter schools are independent *public schools* that operate under 5-year charters granted by the Commonwealth's Board of Elementary and Secondary Ed.
10] One person Strauss quotes is Peter Greene, a teacher unionist who abuses the public trust as an educator by resorting to misleading arguments. Let's look. First, he says "technically, any charter school can call itself a public school." As I said, state law refutes his point.
11] Further, Greene gives 4 reasons charters aren't public schools.1. Transparency. He says public schools are financially transparent and "public school boards allowed to meet privately or in secret." But...
12] ...both points are lies. School districts negotiate huge teacher contracts with private teacher orgs completely out of public view, and, yes, the school board can meet out of public view when it doesn't want the public to know what is being said.

See: minnpost.com/education/2017…
13] and, see his #2 (attached). Sigh. Again, I have no problem with different opinions as long as they are not dishonest.

There isn't one kind of public school and various public school models get leeway from the state to do things differently.
14] Let's stop talking about public education as if it is one system. Or that it should be. It's 14,000 districts and board, 100k schools.

Here is a list (not exhaustive) of my state's public schools/programs that are authorized by law to serve students differently.
15] For an example of Strauss' ideological blindspot and Green's crisis of integrity as a public educator, consider how magnet schools can discriminate on the basis of race (charters can't), for instance.

Are they "public"? Where is the outrage?

16] and, #3 (see attached). Green pretends charter schools are selective schools that use "a variety of techniques for controlling which students they serve." Did you see my magnet school example?
17] Don't school districts use zoning to redline black families into education deserts; and residential gerrymandering to control which schools affluent white parents can attend without having to encounter *those* people?

18] Finally, #4 (see attached). Again, Green has no interest in a fair debate.

The state is the main actor in public education. Charter schools, cities, districts, universities, and nonprofits are authorized by the state to educate kids.
19] Green uses words like "private individuals," "owns and operates," and "corporation" to confuse you. You're supposed to believe "private companies" are taking schools (municipal assets) like Nestle takes public water. That's a shameful way to frame the intent of new schools.
20] In truth, schools are not like water. Families don't get equal access to quality education. Opportunity hoarders do more to "privatize" public ed than anyone. States have responded by offering options to those who get the worst schools (and teachers). That's a good thing.
21] I understand that idealogues like Strauss who provide clickbait for paleoliberals, and unionist first responders like Green want to define "public" education as unionized, bureaucratized, and system-centric. But we must be honest and say that model harms people constantly.
22] As responsible citizens we should care about the educational welfare of every rural, exurban, suburban, or city child whether that child is in a district, charter, magnet, private, Waldorf, Montessori, online, contract alternative, classical, or Afrocentric school.
23] The thing that should make education "public" is that it educates the individual - with their full consent - to their highest potential by any means necessary.

All power to the pupil.
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