Open books, open minds

To the editor:

Instead of engaging in “let’s pick on President Biden” schoolyard bullying, let’s focus on something more significant: The future of equal education in this country.

Social visionaries (liberals) believed that if you couldn’t read, you were being denied knowledge, perspective and thinking skills equal to that of the wealthy who could afford to privately educate themselves and their children. Enter the advantages of public education in 1918 to counterbalance that inequity (which some Republicans now seek to replace with charter schools that wealthier parents can afford).

Unfortunately, I think equalitarian education is being squandered thanks to decades of Republican negativity. Public schools are villianized for “wasting taxpayer money.” Underfunded schools, facing greater complications of increased learning disabilities, family dysfunction, etc. fall farther behind with reduced staffing and support services. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of Americans read below the sixth grade level.

Public education was supposed to teach citizens to read primary sources of information for themselves. That way they wouldn’t have to rely on word-of-mouth or profit-driven media. But citizens listening to audio, like Fox News, aren’t likely to read the 200-page Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit with evidence proving that owner Rupert Murdoch allowed his media hosts to knowingly endorse false allegations that the 2020 election had been stolen. So, listeners continue to be misled.

Low literacy rates play well into the hands of GOP-led counties and states where citizens are told to disdain “the educated elite” and that “college is a waste of money.” Citizens accept disinformation from unregulated media and political agitators, without recognizing the difference between fact and spin. They go along with banning books they’ve never read. They easily fall prey to social media conspiracy theories. It’s no surprise that the 10 states with the lowest quality education are all Republican.

For hundreds of years, books by seasoned reputable authors have opened minds to forming balanced, fact-based world views. But not if the GOP continues its assault on public education: Cutting educational funding, banning books, attacking school boards and teachers, closing libraries, whitewashing our history and pushing us back into the Dark Ages of ignorance and suspicion.

Martha Hodges



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