Public schools are failing to teach character, values and citizenship because our society no longer can agree on what an educated citizen should know, writes David Gelernter in Weekly Standard.
Today there are few states or none where a public consensus or general agreement exists on what “educated citizen” means. Schools exist not only to teach skills but to mold character. (Although many object to this old-fashioned language, few Americans disagree that schools must teach an approach to life, a world view, a moral framework.) The culture war that has been underway since the late ’60s is precisely a war over approaches to life and world views and moral frameworks.
. . . It’s pretty clear that no consensus or general agreement on the nature of education is likely to exist in a country that’s so divided. Which suggests in turn that, for now, the age of the American public school is over.
Education Gadfly urges Gelernter not to give up on public schools. They can improve.
I see a lot of cultural consensus in our society about the sort of topics relevant to K-12 students. Honesty, courage, hard work and fair play still are respected. We all join together to sneer at Paris Hilton.