Santorum And Harvard Anarchist Agree: Public Schools Must Be Abolished

Rick Santorum said something strangely interesting about public schools the other day: “the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home-school or have the little neighborhood school, and into these big factories, so we built equal factories called public schools. And while those factories, as we all know in Ohio and Pennsylvania, have fundamentally changed, the factory school has not.”

A homophobic, global-warming-denying, Intelligent Design-believing conservative calling public schools “factories”? Santorum’s semi-Marxist rant is proof of my adage that if you push hard enough in one ideological direction you end up in the other camp. In the above quote and in other recent instances, Santorum has unwittingly outlined a case for creative, customized, progressive education. Precisely what most liberals seek for their own charges (Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, New York’s Friends Seminary, Santa Monica’s New Roads School), if not always for the children of their constituents.

It was with Santorum’s revolutionary idea in mind that I remembered my old friend and Harvard PhD candidate Cevin Soling and his documentary The War On Kids. Cevin helped get my urban debate documentary, Crotty’s Kids, off the ground. Like me, he’s passionately concerned about the sorry state of American education. I choose to work, however, within the imperfect public school system to improve graduation rates through academic sports like debate and extemporaneous speaking. Cevin, by contrast, believes that public education is, by nature, akin to slavery, a peculiar and pernicious institution that must be dismantled. His argument is what we in debate circles call a “kritik.” Cevin is not proposing policy reform, but, rather, an immediate and wholesale Rejection, so that new policy options might appear that ensure “freedom” and “liberty.”

Seeing this refreshing correspondence between a defiantly indefinable “anarchist” like Soling and an oddly liberationist conservative like Santorum, I decided to give Cevin the floor in a rare guest editorial here at Crotty on Forbes. Though by nature devoid of policy prescriptions, Cevin’s kritik is so big, new, and finely articulated, it deserves well-considered commentary in return. Please provide such commentary in the Comments area below.

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