For all the problems with American--and Canadian--public schools, they are all we have. Unless, that is, democracy
one of your principle
It's only with a shared understanding of things that democracy can flourish. A shared experience, culture, or language. And not one provided by commerce.
But it must not be a strident one, as this can, and usually does, lead to a totalitarian form of government. I have always liked the phrase, "a modest preparation for democracy."
Neil Postman has dealt with this fine balance, among many other subjects of great concern to most of us.
We can hide in our smug satisfaction, our individual niches--or worse, try to shape our public systems to a particular, and peculiar, vision of the world--as Mike Harris and his reactionary Tories are now doing in Ontario. Or we can work to promote open, supportive, intelligent education for our children--and not some mode of induction into an ideological, or commercial system of government.
Give students the tools to choose for themselves!!
mmmm, West Country Guy, seems to not get the point I am making here, and here: It's not the choice among modes of education I am concerned about, it is the content, and more, the environment.
In public schools, rather like the real world, we must learn to associate with everyone. In the other modes, at least in North America, and in Canada, the school population is chosen upon more restricted lines--and the preparation for democracy is more limited in the niches I refered to above.
Maybe it is a good thing to be exclusive. Maybe it even makes for better academic education only to associate with those of one's own economic, or other status. I don't know.
I don't think it makes for a better education in the practice of democracy. But maybe that no longer is any goal in the modern education system, where only the latest piece of computer hardware, and one's proficiency on it counts.