As I wait in the airport for my flight to Washington, it strikes me that it might be worth taking the time to flesh out some of the reasons I decided to blow nearly $600 on a weekend in DC.
At first I thought I would create a list, but then I realized that no matter how many different points I came up with, they essentially all boiled down to one reason.
Public education is worth fighting for.
Few people seem understand the importance of public education. Most people would agree that education is important, but public education almost has a negative connotation for some. Public education means public employees, government involvement, and bureaucracy. For many, that means inefficiency, waste, abuse, and mediocre standards for students. But it is also a test of our ability to act responsibly toward the needs of our communities.
The degree to which we commit ourselves to ensuring a quality public education for all students is ultimately a test of our commitment to democracy and social equality. On their face, offering choice and competition may seem like a worthwhile means of improving school quality, but all too often they relieve us of the collective responsibility of providing excellent schools for all students. To be sure, handing our commitment to democracy and social equality over to the forces of some educational market would be easier than providing public education, but I sincerely doubt it would be our best interest.
I don't believe any society is capable of realizing true democracy without a commitment to quality public education. And that, I suppose is why this debate is so fierce. Not all of us agree on the importance of democracy. And I guess that's why I'm going to DC this weekend. I want to be around the many wonderful people across the country who agree with me.