Opinion: What education’s role should be

Published: 5/16/2022 7:02:11 AM
Modified: 5/16/2022 7:00:18 AM

Joseph Mendola of Warner is a former Kearsarge Regional School Board member.

I want to say that I am a strong advocate for our public school system in the order of the excellent education I received 56 years ago. But we need to reinstate educational excellence in our institution of public education.

This is what I want. This is what parents want. And this is what Commissioner Edelblut wants, which he has told me in the conversations I’ve had with him.

I am concerned that democracy is threatened. But the threat comes from the institution of public education itself, not the commissioner. Horace Mann, the founder of the American public school system, is quoted as saying that “public education is the cornerstone of our community and our democracy.” This is the educational philosophy that Edelblut wants to restore to public education.

Unfortunately, the institution of public education expelled Mann’s philosophy many years ago and replaced it with the educational philosophy of Dr. John Dewey. Dewey’s philosophy is to destroy the value of our individual rights and our free enterprise system and replace it with a collectivist economy like that of Soviet Russia.

Dewey visited Stalin’s Soviet Russia and was amazed that children could be indoctrinated with a collectivist economic system and built a case for destroying the free enterprise system that made the free enterprise system the greatest economic system in the world by lifting more people out of poverty than any other system.

After returning from Stalinist Russia, Dewey wrote a series of articles in the New Republic magazine, “Impressions of Soviet Russia,” that explained all he witnessed in the Russian school system. That philosophy was taught in the teachers' colleges in America and those rights of groups, not individual rights, are being taught to our teaching college students today. Need any more be said about how public education today is the threat to our democracy, not Commission Edelblut?

Some educators take issue with the New Hampshire law that prohibits “divisive concepts” from being taught in the classroom. President Biden ran on the platform to unify our nation not divide it more. The word “divisive” is defined as language that divides us not unites us. We need to teach our children what unites us as a people not what divides us.

Even Vice President Harris, in her remarks at the installation ceremony of Justice Jackson to the Supreme Court, quoted the Preamble to the Constitution which says “we the are achieving a more perfect union.” This is unifying language.

Some educators say that we should be teaching that we are a systemically racist country. I believe that you do not elect an African American President of the United States twice and appoint an African American woman to the U.S. Supreme Court if we are a systemically racist nation. These are the accomplishments we need to teach our children, not that we are systemically racists.

Commissioner Edelblut homeschooled his children because he wanted to give them an excellent academic education. He had the financial resources to have that choice. The commissioner wanted parents who do not have the resources to homeschool their children, if they thought their children would get a better education in another school, to have the option. That is why he promoted the Education Freedom Accounts so parents of lesser means could have a choice in how their children are educated.

The institution of public education is a monopoly. As it is with most monopolies, they eventually deliver a mediocre product or service at an ever-increasing cost to the customer. The customers of our public schools are parents and taxpayers.

This is what we have in New Hampshire. We graduate students across the state on average with barely a 50% proficiency in grade-level reading and math skills. We cannot keep doing this and expect our graduates to achieve success in this highly technical society we live in.

The only way to get a monopoly to deliver at its highest level is to create competition for that monopoly. And that is what school choice is designed to do. Competition will require public education to return to its position of delivering an excellent academic education, like that I received 56 years ago. This is what Commissioner Edelblut wants for our students, excellence in academic education.

Since the concept of family values means different values to different families, educators need to stick to the teaching of academics and stay out of our living rooms where parents will teach their children their family values.

We cannot afford to abandon the values that our nation created. These values are equal access to education that can be found in the Education Freedom Accounts for parents and that, as imperfect people, we are still striving to be a society that believes we are all created equal and that each day we are striving to create a more perfect union.

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