Tuesday, March 02, 2004

'We don't need public education'

Remember those petitioners holding clipboards you hate to meet out there in public places? That was me today. My job, as a minion of the 'local well-oiled education machine' in Santa Monica, a term the somewhat hostile local paper uses, was to collect signatures for a school funding petition. Bleah, the classic introvert chasing signatures. But it's for the kids, I thought, though the husband thought I'd truly gone batty.

To say that I don't like doing this is an understatement. But some good things came of it, notably meeting the other side. I collected a few eyebrow raising comments about public education, coming from youngish well-dressed women. Although these are from different individuals, it's far from anything resembling valid research. But certainly these are thoughts worth trying to understand, doncha think, well maybe not tonight.

"Only parents should pay for public education, nobody else".
"I don't care if education in California is bad. It's not my fault".
"We don't need public education".
"Too much money is spent on public education" How much then? "Nothing".
" You guys want too much money all the time"
"You are too inefficient. You spend too much on the big bureaucracy".

Though I wished I could have more time to figure out where this is coming from, certainly these all each have valid kernels of truth, buried there very deep but at this late moment, I can't seem to find them.

Then there were plenty who ran from me. Cooties, I guess. Towards the end, I wasn't so much bothered by it; I know it's not fun to encounter petitioners.