By Joseph Batory
“…On a return to earth, Dante will almost certainly establish a new rung in hell for those who have attempted to obliterate public education. It is the most lied about, misrepresented story in America. Newsweekly magazines, mindless editorial pages, television exposes and televangelists have maligned public education with a ferocity that should have been reserved for serial killers…”
Frosty Troy, Editor, Oklahoma Observer,
For decades, public schools have been the “easy target” for bashers determined to discredit and destroy them. Most school people have been too engaged with their prime mission of trying to educate children and have opted not to waste time responding to these critical diatribes from “cheap shot artists” who know little about the realities of schooling in America. In retrospect, the public school establishment’s not fighting back has been a huge mistake.
Much of this negativism can be traced to President Ronald Reagan who, because he had no education plan, decided to attack public schools by issuing a 1983 “little report gathering dust” entitled A Nation At Risk. With this politically-motivated action, Reagan stirred up a firestorm and gave his “right wing” worshippers the impetus to launch a vicious propaganda campaign that has continuously manipulated public opinion regarding public schools into the present.
The problem with A Nation At Risk was that its basis was lacking credibility. The best source that exposes this disinformation about public education is The Manufactured Crisis by David Berliner and Bruce Biddle. Here’s just a bit of what these university researchers have written: “The manufactured crisis myth about public schools involved a serious campaign by identifiable persons to sell Americans the false idea that the public schools were failing and that the nation was at peril. This campaign involved a great deal of effort, chicanery, playing on people’s worries, pandering to prejudices, and misreporting and misrepresenting evidence. In short, to use terms that were popular when discussing World War II propaganda, this campaign constituted THE BIG LIE — and a lot of people continue to be fooled by its claims…”
Another book, Exploding The Myths, by Joe Schneider and Paul Houston offers this blunt analysis: “We believe that many elected officials and their corporate sponsors engaged in a conspiracy—a conspiracy against candor with the American people.”
Indeed, since Reagan began the barrage, a corps of “right wing” talking heads has continued to manipulate public opinion through an incessant crusade in the media, misrepresenting and perverting so much of what is good about public education in America.
The names of these public school attackers should be familiar to anyone who watches those rampant propagandistic radio and television panel and “talk” shows that are little more than a forum for spewing bias and disinformation about public schools.
Beyond the fancy titles of these anti-public education celebrities and their organizations lies a remarkable linkage (similarity) of money streams (directly or indirectly) from “right wing” sources to the tune of millions of dollars (Source: Media Transparency).
What all of this adds up to is a select group of mercenary critics essentially paid to attack public schools by “right wing” sponsors. Millions of dollars continue to finance this ideological effort to destroy public education. Wealthy private interests are manufacturing “news” to create a distorted reality regarding public schools with public opinion is being shaped and formed by their conservative “front people” for their own purposes…a sad commentary of propaganda at its worst and a terrible disservice to the public schools which continue to teach and care about all children who enter their doors.