The study Brooks touts was led by Christian Smith, professor of Notre Dame University, chronic and grateful recipient of much largesse from the Lilly Foundation, the charitable trust begun by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. This foundation is a major funder of such right-wing think tanks as the Hudson Institute and The Manhattan Institute. According to Right Wing Watch, the latter entity has among its many goals the funding and promotion of .... charter schools! Entities embracing free market capitalism and evangelical Christianity are magnets for Lilly money.
In his column, Brooks writes of the sociologists' brain-picking of 230 anonymous slackers:
Smith and company found an atmosphere of extreme moral individualism — of relativism and nonjudgmentalism. Again, this doesn’t mean that America’s young people are immoral. Far from it. But, Smith and company emphasize, they have not been given the resources — by schools, institutions and families — to cultivate their moral intuitions, to think more broadly about moral obligations, to check behaviors that may be degrading. In this way, the study says more about adult America than youthful America.Translation: today's youths are totally laid-back and just too cool with everything... gay rights, women's rights, immigrant rights, civil rights. The public schools are simply not teaching them to be judgmental idealogues like David Brooks. The callow young people must be carefully taught to develop prejudices and reactionary thought processes. And their parents are just a bunch of lazy hippies to have raised such a generation of free thinkers.
Which brings us to H.R. 2218, The Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act. This bill, coming up for a vote in the House today, will make it easier for the privatized, non-union Charter Schools to set up shop. How it empowers parents is anybody's guess, but I think empowerment in GOP-speak means profits for charter schools. Because without charter schools, the parents of David Brooks's addled imagination are a bunch of wet noodles, and his conservative friends cannot profit.
So when the Republicans bitch and moan that we have too much debt to fix up our crumbling schools and hire back all those laid-off teachers, it beggars belief that they would be willing to fund construction and renovation of charter schools. Well, no. It doesn't.
Isaiah Poole of Campaign for America's Future explains it this way:
It would give federal funding priority to states that repeal limits on the number of charter schools that can be chartered or the percentage of the state's school-age population attending charters. It would also give priority funding to states that finance charter schools at a level comparable to public school funding. And it contains assistance to charter schools to help with construction or repair costs.
We've had 20 years of experience in charter schools since the concept was born in Minnesota in the early 1990s, and what we've learned in that time is that charter schools are not a panacea. "The media regularly covers great charter schools, and news stories about low-performing public schools abound," notes the Education Justice website. "It would be easy to conclude that charter schools are, on average, better than public schools. It would also be wrong."Which brings us back to the David Brooks screed. In his inimitable passive-aggressive oblique fashion, he is cheerleading the destruction of the public education system without coming right out and saying so. He instead pretends to care about the angst of a new Lost Generation which needs to be brought out of its amoral darkness and into the bright light of capitalism, and taught how to be part of the greater society. He just doesn't mention it's the Society of Elites and that their saviors are out to make a fast buck educating them the conservative way. Because greed is so damned good.
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