When It Comes to Attacking Public Schools, Ohio Rep Has Nothing on Texas Pols

by Dan Quinn

Folks in Ohio are upset after a Republican state legislator there criticized public education as a failure because, he says, it’s socialism. But he’s got nothing on the anti-public education fanatics we elect here in Texas.

Ohio state Rep. Andrew Brenner wrote about public schools in a blog post on March 3 titled “Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?” Here’s part of what he wrote:

It is interesting that tea party members will attack Obama-care relentlessly as a socialist system that brings about mediocrity and failure, and also blame Common Core for all of the problems in our education system because they are concerned that it will become centralized. However, they rarely (if ever) bring up the fact that our public education system is already a socialist system. and has been a socialist system since the founding of our country. While one room school houses (which were also used in many cases as houses of worship) worked well 100 years ago when most students graduated by the 7th grade, the same system does not work well today.

The solution to the “problem,” he writes, is to privatize education:

Successful schools will thrive. The free-market system works for cars, furniture, housing, restaurants, and to a lesser degree higher education, so why can’t it work for our primary education system? We need to do something that was done about 25 years ago in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc: sell off the existing buildings, equipment and real estate to those in the private sector.”

Maybe that will work well for Rep. Brenner’s constituents — at least the well-heeled ones. For middle-class and low-income families? Not so much.

But Brenner’s hostility to public education is nothing compared to what we hear from some Texas politicians.

A few years back, state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, let folks know what she thought about public schools — or, as she put it, “free education”:

“Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell.”

But probably the most venomous attack on public schools came from Cynthia Dunbar, a Richmond Republican then serving on the Texas State Board of Education. In her book published in 2008, One Nation Under God, Dunbar called public education unconstitutional, “tyrannical,” and “a subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” She warned parents about sending their children to public schools:

“Our children are, after all, our best and greatest assets, and we are throwing them into the enemy’s flames even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.”

And that was from an elected official who home-schooled her own children but was elected to help manage a public education system for nearly 5 million other kids.

That joker from Ohio is worried about sending children to “socialist” public schools? Oh please. That’s nothing. In Texas we have elected officials who say out loud that they think sending your kids to public schools is the same as sending them straight to hell.

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