A Washington Post editorial on the presidential candidates' positions on education, makes the same mistake as the candidates themselves...they assume that education can be fixed solely by pouring more money into public education or by offering "choice' to parents.
These are simplistic solutions offered as a reflex action by each candidate to appeal to the base. John McCain supports parental choice because that's what the base of the Republican party, including social conservatives and business interests who would love to cash in on the education business, wants.
Barack Obama's plan, what has been revealed of it, is not much better. It calls four pouring billions of dollars more into education, something which would not hurt, but will still not deal with the basic problem.
As long as the political parties and their standard bearers continue to consider the schools as the only playing field in the battle to educate our children, any plan they come up with is destined to fail. The problem is a societal one. Everything that can be done to improve education should still be done.
That being said, the solutions offered now would only help a little, or not change things at all.
The miracle cure for education described by voucher proponents (and please drop the nonsense about calling it choice, what our politicians propose is thinly disguised vouchers) assumes that private school teachers have some remarkable method of dealing with children whose home lives are filled with violence, poverty, and mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
The solutions offered by the Democratic party offer nothing better. Pouring billions more into our public educational system is not going to do a thing to help teachers deal with children who have never been taught respect for any adult, and who do not care whether their actions are preventing their classmates from learning. The extra money will not save children from nightmarish home lives in poverty-infested homes that most of us cannot even imagine.
And neither party is offering solutions to an economic system that has emphasized the good of stockholders above that of workers, further increasing the already incredible challenges facing American families.
Education does not operate in a vacuum. The miracle of our public schools is the incredible amount of children that our teachers are somehow able to reach, despite tremendous odds. The vast majority of American public schools, despite the dubious tests that are cited by critics, are not failing the students, and are definitely not leaving children behind. In thousands and thousands of cases, it has been a public school teacher who has held out the helping hand that has kept a child from being left behind.
Isn't it time we started talking about solutions and stopped scapegoating the public education system?