Matthew Ladner

Defining Democracy

Posted on March 22, 2006 | Author: Matthew Ladner
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Responding to the January Stossel special, “Stupid in America,” Ed Ott, director of public policy for the New York City Central Labor Council, said ABC does not understand that “public schools are what distinguish democracy from every other system in the world.” He said he found it “appalling” that ABC would “risk its own freedom by undermining public schools.”

Mr. Ott should consult a dictionary for the definition of “democracy,” but what of his broader point that public schools are the bedrock of civic society?

The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress history exam taken by 12th grade public school students resulted in 58 percent scoring “Below Basic”- the lowest possible ranking- on American history. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently released a survey of 112,000 American high school students finding that 36 percent believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publication. The survey also found that 32 percent of American high school students say the press has "too much freedom."

Opponents try to paint school choice as an either, or proposition. Either you’re for public schools or you’re against them. But that is overly simplistic. The discussion is about educating children and Stossel does a service in pointing out some serious problems. The unions largely responsible for those problems should start working on a solution.

Matthew Ladner is Director of State Projects at the Alliance for School Choice and a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.

Key Links:

-Goldwater Institute: "The Impact of Tuition Scholarships on Low-Income Families: A Survey of Arizona School Choice Trust Parents"
- ABC News: "Stupid in America" "The teachers unions are mad at me"

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