Sunday, March 27, 2005

L'esprit du temps

I was struck by this LA Times article on Governor Arnold by historian Kevin Starr. It seems to capture what I believe to be a contradictory spirit of the times as reflected in Schwarzenegger:

...[W]e have the oddity of a free-market-oriented governor... who is possessed simultaneously of an almost instinctive respect for the public sector and its safety nets.

I think most people share this philosophical bent with the Governator; it -- at least partly -- explains his rampant popularity. But it also speaks to one of the problems public school advocates have in connecting with the public.

Most Americans want strong public schools. They want a rigorous, challenging, and meaningful education for every child. But they're also tired of a perceived stagnation in public education. Right or not, most people view public schools as antiquated institutions in need of innovation.

While I reject such notions -- I think given the chronic underfunding of schools they've done quite well -- I find it difficult, on logical grounds, to argue that innovation and change are unnecessary. Even successful institutions need to adapt and change to continue to thrive.

So I think the question is this: How do we introduce the spirit of free-market innovation into public schools while steadfastly resisting the right-wing push to privatize?


Blogger Jenny D. said...

How much money would schools need not to be underfunded? Since you are sure they are underfunded, you must know how much they need. So how much is it? Because if a school had that much money per child, or whatever, it would suddenly be successful, right?

3:54 AM  

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