John Cook, an editor at Gawker, writes a very Swiftian proposal to solve our public education problems once and for all – close all our private schools.
It’s an oft-noted irony of the confrontation in Chicago that Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children to the private, $20,000-a-year University of Chicago Lab School, which means his family doesn’t really have much of a personal stake in what happens to the school system he is trying to reform. This is pretty routine behavior for rich people in Chicago, and there’s a pretty good reason for it: Chicago’s public schools are terrible. If you care about your children’s education, and can afford to buy your way out of public schools, as Emanuel can, it’s perfectly reasonable to do so. Barack and Michelle Obama made a similar decision, opting to purchase a quality education for their daughters at Sidwell Friends rather than send them to one of Washington, D.C.’s, deeply troubled public schools.
So you can see why there’s a problem. Here’s the solution: Make Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama’s children go to public schools. From a purely strategic and practical standpoint, it would be much easier to resolve the schools crisis if the futures of America’s wealthiest and most powerful children were at stake. Wealthy people tend to lobby effectively for their interests, and if their interests were to include adequate public funding for the schools their children attend, and libraries, and air-conditioning, those goals could likely be achieved without having to resort to unpleasant things like teachers’ strikes.
It’s nice to see the Overton Window shift to the left on a matter of public policy, though we’d miss out on a lot of classic novels and movies such as Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, Dead Poets Society, and Taps.