Can Public Schools Work? (with Neal McCluskey)


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American public schooling was established to unify diverse people and prepare citizens for democracy. Intuitively, it would teach diverse people the same values, preferably in the same buildings, with the goal that they will learn to get along and uphold government by the people. But intuition can be wrong; significant evidence suggests that public schools have not brought diverse people together, whether from legally mandated racial segregation, espousing values many people could not accept, or human beings simply tending to associate with others like themselves.

Neal McCluskey, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and author of the forthcoming book The Fractured Schoolhouse: Reexamining Education for a Free, Equal, and Harmonious Society, joins the show today to explain how the fear of community balkanization, the panic over critical race theory and “gender ideology”, and reactions to the COVID-19 crisis have only further driven rifts between the right and left on the topic of education. But how many of these are new problems, and how many are simply old ones in new forms? In the end, we may be forced to ask; is the intractable problem of not agreeing on what “our” children should learn solvable? And if not, is funding public education even worth it?

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