Susan Johnson: Charter schools, vouchers will erode what unites us
Susan Johnson is a retired journalism teacher in West Virginia, watching with alarm the speedy push for charters and vouchers in her state’s legislature.
If aliens flew to Earth on any given Friday night in October, they would see a strange ceremony taking place in thousands of communities large and small across America.
The ceremonial crowning of the high school homecoming king and queen at halftime of a football game is more than an American tradition: it is a rite of passage — just like prom and graduation — from American childhood to American adulthood. It is a common experience that bonds us as a culture.
In short, the American public school is where we learn to be Americans.
In the United States today, the homecoming king and queen can be Black, brown, white, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Middle Eastern, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, physically or mentally challenged, depending on where the alien spaceship hovers. This speaks to the fact that our culture is not tribal. It is not based on religious doctrine. American high school ceremonies have their roots in Greek culture, not Judeo-Christian culture.
Our American education system is based on reason.
The ceremonies we witness in American public high schools are the outward expression of the egalitarian nature of our public education system. It is in public school where our children learn the basics of civic government, science and history. It is where they unlearn the prejudices and discriminations of their respective “tribes.”