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David Harmer Op-ed for the SF Chronicle in 2000: "Abolish Public Schools" (With link to op-ed )

Original post made by Nelson, Downtown, on Oct 14, 2010

David Harmer made the argument to kill public schools in a 2000 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here is the link to his 2000 op-ed:

Web Link

Comments (20)

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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:51 am

This opinion is not only far from mainstream, it is detached from reality.

"it's the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood, when literacy levels among all classes, at least outside the South, matched or exceeded those prevailing now..."

Where are the statistics to back that up? It sounds like Mr. Harmer needs to crack a history book. Literacy rates were far lower than today in the first half of the nineteenth century, and a large fraction of the population never went to school at all or read a book.

Web Link


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Posted by Maja7
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:52 am

I'm voting for Harmer. A politician that believes parents have the right to decide what type of education their children receive, whether it's public, private or charter school, has my vote.

Here in P-town we are extremely fortunate (even though we don't always acknowledge it)to have the high performing public schools we do. Parents in other communities are not as lucky, however. Giving parents the choice of schools is important. Big Government is involved in our lives too much these days. And, government have such a great track record of doing an efficient, effective job, don't they? That's sarcasm. I think every parent should be able to decide where they want their child(ren) to go to school, the voucher system would give us, the parents, the power to make that decision. Schools that are not performing would have to either change their methods or go out of "business".

There is power in choice.


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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:57 am

Nelson, Thank you for pointing this important difference out. Now I am DEFINITELY VOTING FOR HARMER.

School Choice WORKS.

Now you please tell me why Obama is terminating the school voucher program in DC...despite the fact that it is so much more effective than the public schools.

View Obama and DC Voucher Program Clip >>> Web Link

Other resources that school choice works >>> Web Link

>>> Web Link

Vote for Harmer to help save our children's education.


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Posted by Maja7
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:57 am

"Literacy rates were far lower than today in the first half of the nineteenth century, and a large fraction of the population never went to school at all or read a book"

Could this stat be true because during that time period children may not have been able to attend school because of having to work on the family farm or business?

How can giving people more choice in their education be a bad thing? Those that don't care to become involve, will continue to go to the school that is closet to them. Here in P-town that wouldn't matter but what if someone lives in one of the less fortunate towns in our area? Education is a way to elevate yourself from the circumstances you are born into...by that, I mean poverty.

Just a thought:)


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 9:19 am

"Could this stat be true because during that time period children may not have been able to attend school because of having to work on the family farm or business?"

The point is that Harmer doesn't even understand that statistic. Read what Harmer wrote. He is trying to bend reality to support his positions.

"How can giving people more choice in their education be a bad thing?"

Because money to pay those vouchers would come directly from money that currently pays for our school system that, as you say, is "high performing". We have already seen cuts in services do to the economic downturn and bank failures. The last thing we need is more cuts to our schools.


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Posted by Patiot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 9:28 am

That should have read "due to the economic downturn ..."


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Posted by what?
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2010 at 9:30 am

Maja7,

"I'm voting for Harmer. A politician that believes parents have the right to decide what type of education their children receive, whether it's public, private or charter school, has my vote."

Wake UP! Parents DO have a choice to decide what type of education their children receive!

TRY AGAIN!


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Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

This is a bizarre thread. You currently have the option to send your child to any accredited school, or to home school. Abolishing public schools, as Mr. Harmer clearly advocates in this piece, TAKES AWAY a choice. How does that improve school choice? And how can anyone advocate that public schools have not improved our nation's literacy or leadership in the world over the past 100+ years? Bizarre.


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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

b,
No...you are mistaken.
He means that currently citizens have no choice but to pay for public schools from their taxes. If parents could choose their portion of tax for education to be spent on private schools, then they would not be double-charged. Currently, any parent who chooses to send their kids to private schools still has to pay taxes which go to public schools. Hence they are spending a great deal more for their child's education.

If, as David Harmer suggests, public schools had to compete on a more level playing field, educational costs would decrease, quality of education would increase as the choices for parents would increase.

David Harmer's idea of more school choice WORKS as previously posted.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:53 am

Thanks for posting this. I was on the fence about who to vote for, and after reading this, Mcnearny gets my vote (too bad we have to pick the lesser of two evils)

btw, learning the multiplication tables in kindergarten? are you kidding me?


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Margaret,

Go back and read what Harmer said. He wants to take away the choice of public schools. He says he wants to _abolish_ public schools. There would be only private schools or home schools in Harmer's vision.


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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Patriot,
In either case, David Harmer is spot-on correct.

Before Massachusetts was the first State that mandated public schooling, the quality of education was higher.

Horace Mann saw compulsory education as a way to achieve a uniform culture among an increasingly heterogeneous people. Mann and other public-school promoters imported three main ideas from the authoritarian Prussian (i.e. German) schools:

1. That the purpose of state schooling was not intellectual training but the conditioning of children to obedience, subordination, and collective life. Thus memorizing outranked thinking.

2. Whole ideas were broken into fragmented subjects and school days were divided into fragmented subjects and school days were divided into fixed periods, so that self-motivation to learn would be muted by ceaseless interruptions.

3. That State (i.e. Government) was posited as the true parent of children. Public schools are to usurp parents' job of raising and education their children and teaching them moral values.

______

Do the above sound familiar with public (government) schools?

While David Harmer realizes that because of teachers unions and public pressure, public schools will not be abolished. But increased choice for parents, he rightly believes, will be the greatest benefit for students.


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Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

No, Margaret, I am not mistaken. It says right there, in David Harmer's own words: "Government should exit the business of running and funding schools" and repeatedly idealizes and romanticizes the era before public schools. That is different than what you are advocating.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Margaret,

"In either case, David Harmer is spot-on correct. "

David Harmer is clearly wrong. Public schools resulted in higher literacy rates for Americans, as the link I provided above shows. This correlation between free public education and literacy rates is widely documented.

"While David Harmer realizes ... because of ... public pressure ... public schools will not be abolished"

Where does he say that? He says he wants to _abolish_ them. And public pressure not to abolish public schools is a bad thing?

David Harmer is free to have such an extreme view, and voters are free to disagree with him. These opinions, from groups like CATO, usually go hand in hand with other extreme opinions. This revelation makes me wonder how David Harmer feels about abolishing the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, or protections against securities fraud. We need to know who we are voting for.


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Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Let's be honest with each other here. What David Harmer really wants is for the government to pay for kids to receive an education at a Conservative, religion-centric private school.

That's probably a violation of the Constitution. But Republican politicians don't worry about the Constitution anymore, do they?


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Posted by Ray
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Here is great article about Harmer's extreme views public education:

Web Link

"Harmer, however, is apparently okay with subjecting his own children to the "life-ruining effects" of public schools: They reportedly attend public school in an upscale suburb of San Ramon. And should Harmer's master plan be carried out, his wife, Elayne, would be out of a job—she's a substitute teacher."


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Posted by mepartypatriot
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:24 pm

mepartypatriot is a registered user.

Maja7, you got sucked in like the rest.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm

The choice that some are speaking of here is just a nice way of saying it is ok to discriminate against children. Those who are ELL, learning disabled, have behavior issues, lack parental support, and money will not be going to these choice schools. They have the option to not accept anyone they choose. This is a way to drain more money from public education and cause even further gaps in achievement. Vouchers are the new name for segregation.

Any candidate who advocates discrimination like Harmer does will never get my vote. His participation in the Tea Party this weekend couldn't make my decision more clear.


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Posted by Janna
a resident of Dublin
on Oct 16, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Janna is a registered user.

How is it their choice when all the options cost money? I'm not surprised by this attitude though. Conservatives don't mind when those with the least resources lose choices due to lack of resources. Class warfare anyone?

The concept that money creates choice is out of the conservatives range of thinking, unfortunately.


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Posted by Janna
a resident of Dublin
on Oct 16, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Janna is a registered user.

Oh, Margaret. Get over yourself! Plenty of us went to public schools and came out just fine. I was a student of Los Angeles Unified and somehow managed to get educated. Stop calling it government school, it just makes you look insane.

Do you really think every one should have to pay out of pocket so you can avoid taxes? Get real.


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