Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yes, an Osmond did just propose eliminating compulsory public education in Utah

That would be Utah state Senator Aaron Osmond* advocating on the state Senate blog for an end to compulsory schooling of children.
So, okay, ha, ha, funny, funny, and so on. But if you go over to his website (that's the link of his name above), the very first thing for which he is advocating is:
The Opportunity for a Free Public Education in Utah. Our State Constitution requires that we provide a free public education for every child in the state. As such education is and should continue to be a top policy and funding priority for the Utah State Legislature.
...which doesn't sound a lot like a guy who's planning on getting rid of K-12 ed. Moreover, if you read what he actually was writing in the blog post, he doesn't get around to abolishing schooling until the very end. The rest of the post has some of the nostalgia for a non-existent past (education for all those who wanted to pursue it unless you were the wrong sex or color...all teachers were respected and admired...that's just wrong), some reaction to parents who aren't involved (reflected by some of the comments), and some misunderstanding of how public education works. For example, every parent (in, so far as I know, every state; certainly in Utah) has the ultimate authority of the education of their child; the state is held to have a compelling interest (which is why they can check in on homeschooling to a greater or lesser extent), but the parents have the ultimate interest. That wouldn't need a change. And parents can make the decision not to send their children to public school. Public school also is already an opportunity and one which can be lost (to some extent) if particular norms are violated. Again, this is already true.
What's missed by this is the compelling public interest the state--and we as a community and nation--have in the education of children and the blindness to children without adult support as was beautifully pointed out by state School Board member Leslie Castle.
Most of the rest of what he's advocating for both on the blog and on his website is pretty standard for conservatives on education; a lot of this is feeding the conversations around NCLB renewal. So while the elimination of public education is catchy, the mixing of parents' rights and a rose-colored view of the past isn't really that far out there. As he says he's going to file a bill, expect to hear more on this.

*Yes, those Osmonds. He's a nephew of Donny and Marie

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