Say What?

In an otherwise interesting piece in Mother Jones about the price we pay for the lack of civics education in public schools today, the author describes some pretty appalling behavior by school children and declared that

Such behavior is a far cry from the ideals of American schools, which were founded to maintain a pluralistic democracy and protect citizens against the tyranny of the majority.

To which The Curmudgeon says “Say what?”

A quick check with the dictionary finds this definition of pluralism:

a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization

The idea that the people who launched public education in this country had any interest in diversity is absurd; they envisioned public education to be exclusively for white people, primarily male white people, and probably only white Christian people.  They only relented and accepted the idea that non-white people needed to be educated, too, with the greatest of reluctance.  And the notion that schools had any interest in diverse students developing “their traditional cultural or special interest within the confines of a common civilization” is equally absurd.  It has only been in the past twenty or thirty years or so that schools stopped encouraging diverse people to enter into the great American melting pot.  Until recently, schools encouraged children to leave behind their distinct cultures to become more “American,” whatever that means.

The Curmudgeon is a fan of Mother Jones but this piece really, really blew it on the subject of the ideals behind public education in America.

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