Tuesday, January 6, 2009

School, War and Politics

Scandalous Scholastics - Gym Class Heroes (mp3)

As everyone and their cousin now knows, the Obamas' daughters begin their educational journey this week at Sidwell Friends, the same independent school where Chelsea Clinton once roamed the halls. Amazingly, his choice to avoid D.C.'s public schools, understood as one of the worst civilized educational environments in our solar system, has received cries of frustration and accusations of hypocrisy from wackos on both sides of the extreme.

As someone who feels incredibly well-versed on many of the big issues involving education both public and independent (or, if you must, "private"), accusing Obama of hypocrisy for not sending his children into the educational equivalent of the Anbar Province is... well, it's stupid. To conclude, because he sends his daughters to an independent school, that Obama doesn't care about improving our country's public schools is sophistic and insulting. (NOTE: Thank you, Cal Thomas, for always making it easy for a liberal to find a moron arguing the other side.)

The easy and dangerous hypocritical comparison is between education and war. Lefties like myself find it nauseating that our country's biggest war-mongers -- "neo-hawks," "doofuses," whatever descriptor works for you -- always conveniently managed to avoid military service. And they rarely seem willing to let their children serve in a military capacity. They won't put their money where their mouth is, unless they're in a hotel room or an airport bathroom stall. (Yes, that was a cheap blow, but it was fun... and that's what SHE (or he) said!)

But here's the difference, and it's a pretty damn big one. It's entirely reasonable to support the view that our system of public education is vastly fucked up and in serious need of reform while also sending your children to an independent school. Why on God's green earth would a reasonable person knowingly place their children into an awful educational environment? Why not work your ass off to help improve that system so that, one day, maybe your children's children don't have to pay wild sums of cash to get a decent education?

Paying tuition for Sidwell Friends isn't going to make Barack anti-public schools. If anything, getting that bill will help fuel his belief that it sure would be nice if he could help Michelle Rhee out and get that public system in tip-top shape.

War, on the other hand, is a little stickier. Because if you ask almost any conservative, ain't nothing wrong with our military. We're hardly allowed to criticize our military, and then only if you can say the words "I support our troops" and can prove it by way of CIA background check. So when Dubya or Cheney or Wolfowitz and all of their children avoid actual military service like Anthrax, it's not because they believe the military is in need of massive reform. Nope. They just don't wanna die. Or lose a limb. (And, with the state of our Veterans Administration, who can blame them for that?)

For the school and war issue to be on par, one would have to express grave concerns about how well our soldiers are trained, which, to my knowledge, is not in question for most people. Most reasonable minds believe U.S. military training is fine if not stellar. Most reasonable minds merely question the fact that our poorest citizens make up the lion's share of our fighting forces.

We are sending our military personnel into harm's way believing that they are as reasonably prepared for what comes next as can be arranged. But we are not sending children into our schools reasonably prepared for what happens in those buildings. The school is supposed to be their training ground, but instead, all too often, it's their hot zone, and their training is found wanting.

If you think the Ford Pinto is in need of serious reform, and you support that reform, it doesn't mean you should be obligated to purchase and drive Ford Pintos. You can still drive your Lexus or VW (yay Chattanooga!) and enthusiastically support Pinto Reform. I'm sure Obama will screw up plenty while in office, but putting his girls in Sidwell Friends ain't a mistake, and it ain't hypocritical.



"Scandalous Scholastics" is from the album As Cruel As School Children and can be purchased at iTunes or on Amazon.com's mp3 download site. Soldier picture taken from the following web site: www.defendamerica.mil. Please notify if the picture violates copyright, and I will remove it.

3 comments:

Bob said...

Jimmy Carter tried to send his daughter Amy to Wash. public schools, but it created too much of a circus and caused too many problems for everyone involved. Made for some pretty funny SNL skits though.

Reuniting Friends said...

Great post buddy ....Really the school days are the best days of life...The content of the post was really nice...we are trying to reunite school friends through our website to share their fond memo

Reuniting friends

Bob said...

Oh, shit, you got spammed, too, William. We need to put advertising on our site and get rich as kings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!