Date: October 17, 2003
Subject: Anti-public education?

I received an e-mail from a reader who objected to my characterization of the MAPSSS flyer as "professionally-produced," saying that readers might infer some sort of conspiracy supporting MAPSSS. Let me clarify that what I meant by this is simply that the flyer was very well-written and designed. I am a professional writer and graphic designer, so I recognize good work.

This leads me to a concern of mine, which was again brought to light at this week's Education Minnesota Professional Conference (what many folks still refer to as "MEA weekend"). The debate over the draft standards has seems to have become particularly polarized this time around, with both sides, pro and con, staking out their positions, drawing lines in the sand, pick your metaphor.

One of the sessions at the Education Minnesota conference was Ideology Behind Anti-Public Education Initiatives by Tom Siebold. Some (many?) teachers apparently feel under siege, victims of a conservative conspiracy that is determined to bring an end to public education, and replace it with for-profit and religious-run schools. Siebold is part of what he calls a "resistance movement." His web site is at: http://www.teacherprofessionalism.com/.

For the record, I am an advocate of public education, and for the second time I am serving on my school district's Vote Yes committee for our levy referendum, to the chagrin of my friends at the Taxpayers League. I have two kids in public school and think the world of their principal, teachers, superintendent and school board. Although I cannot speak for them, EdWatch (formerly the Maple River Education Coalition) from what I have seen is not anti-teacher, with many teachers onboard with their agenda, or particularly anti-public education, although there are many private and homeschoolers among them.

The many teachers I met on the Academic Standards Committee are dedicated education professionals, very intelligent, articulate, with a great sense of humor. They deserve the support of Minnesota taxpayers and parent and student "customers."

Let's have a debate on the merits of the issues, and keep it clean. And thanks for holding me accountable.