To the Editor:
Once again, I find myself having to respond to one of Aaron Harrell’s tiring propagandist missives. I have to assume that he has a hard time reading with comprehension because his response to my previous letters is so far from reality.
For example, I criticized “public schools” — he calls that an attack on “public education” as if he sees no difference. Public schools are the physical representations of the idea that is public education. Public education is and always should be free.
Mr. Harrell lauds his own support of that concept as if it were a revelation, his exclusive domain. Public education can’t be improved without public schools breaking free from the status quo.
In that regard, I am far more dedicated to improving public education than Mr. Harrell. I can say that with the utmost confidence because I have attended every education reform forum that I have been physically able to attend over the past 20 years and I’ve never seen Mr. Harrell at any of them.
He stated there is a vital part of this debate “nary a soul seeks to discuss” but that’s not true at all. Every aspect of public schools and education has been endlessly debated. His statement is simply his unwitting admission that he hasn’t been a part of it.
Mr. Harrell’s superficial contributions are nothing more than regurgitations of decades-old mainstream propaganda.
In addition to Mr. Harrell’s incorrect assertion that I express “distaste for our public education” (emphasis added), he further claims that I’ve been “berating the teachers.”
I would like to think he really believes that because it would further my assertion that he simply has a reading comprehension problem. But it’s far more likely that he knows this not to be true and uses such inflammatory rhetoric to drive a wedge between the teachers and those whose ideas can dramatically improve the dysfunctional system they are forced to endure.
Anyone, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, who attempts to reform public schools gets accused of bashing teachers. It’s a shame how effective that’s been in stifling meaningful debate.
I have nieces who are just beginning to venture into the public-school arena. One is a teacher and another has children entering grade school.
I relish my “favorite uncle” status with them and hate to think they might read and believe Mr. Harrell’s harangues. Just the other day, I heard one of these young ladies admonishing a guy for commenting correctly that state funding is no different from local funding in that it’s all coming from the same taxpayers anyway.
She told him that he wasn’t qualified to comment on school funding because, unlike her, he didn’t have any children in school. I had to gently remind her that was the same rebuttal I received from a school board member when I made a similar comment before my children entered school 20 years earlier. She was a victim of the same region-wide propaganda campaign that was the focus of my most recent letters that got Mr. Harrell’s shorts in a bunch.
I would also like to register a complaint with the Enterprise’s editor for allowing Mr. Harrell’s liberal use of literary license in putting quotation marks around “wealthy neighbors” when I actually stated that “wealthy people” have been voting for school budgets that they can afford. If I wanted to incite my neighbors and perpetuate class warfare, I would have used Mr. Harrell’s words myself.
My point was that the direct democracy model of citizens voting on budgets is worse than the Marxist model of “From each according to ability, to each according to need” because it takes from those with the most need at the behest of those who have been brainwashed into thinking that money solves all problems. I’m not berating my wealthy neighbors, teachers, or school boards as Mr. Harrell claims (but he’s spot-on about other letter writers) because they are as much a victim of our dysfunctional system as those who have already taken to voting with their feet.
Mr. Harrell correctly states that the property tax is regressive and I agree that it’s not an appropriate way to pay for our public schools. But people in the upper echelon of the reform debate regard any discussion of the source of revenue as a distraction.
The state has made numerous attempts to improve funding sources over the years. State aid has gone up and down with changes in governorship and new sources have emerged such as the lottery and judicial activism but they haven’t had any effect, have they?
That’s because we don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. We didn’t complain so much about the property tax being a regressive source of revenue when spending levels were reasonable.
Has anyone noticed that, of the myriad fundamental changes imposed on our traditions and institutions by the government over the past several years that there have been virtually no changes made to public schools? Can you think of any, other than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s smack down of teachers unions’ collective bargaining rights?
I suggest that’s because our public schools were the first of our vital institutions to complete the fundamental transformation to a socialist model years ago. We’re in the midst of the Left’s next fundamental transformation of our health-care industry, while its socialist experiment in our public schools is on the verge of collapse.
One of the first books I read when I became interested in education reform was a hardbound copy of a speech in the archives of the West Point library written in 1887 by James B. Fry. He was talking about compulsory education of soldiers but the part that I’ll never forget was when he urged his audience to imagine what it would be like if government were in charge of the nation’s health care. Imagine no more.
No choice in education. No choice in health insurance. What’s next — no choice in elections?
Editor’s note: David Crawmer owns a Guilderland business.