As with my criticism of his understanding of economics (in demanding that the federal government just print more money to wipe out the New York city debt), I believe de Blasio is fundamentally wrong about the purpose of public education. In Chicago, my parents were great supporters of the public school system and sought to stop the white flight from public schools. While we could afford private schools, I went to public schools for virtually all of my pre-college education. They believed that public schools constitute important forums for shaping citizens in a diverse and common education. I believe strongly in public schools and we sent all of our kids public schools for the same reason.
Public education is not about wealth distribution. It should be a place for all families — wealthy and impoverished — to experience a common education, including important civics courses. This is the place where we shape future citizens. It is about affording all children a common and shared educational experience, not laboratories for de Blasio’s experiments on social or economic reconstruction.
It is certainly true that all forms of social welfare programs involve distribution of resources. However, public education is not about redistributing wealth. It is about guaranteeing common education and opportunities for all citizens. The level of support is tied to its educational, not a redistributive, function.
As an educator of over thirty years, I find de Blasio’s statement deeply troubling. Our schools and our children are not vehicles for de Blasio or others to recreate society. It is a highjacking of our schools for their own agendas. Public schools are struggling with low performing test scores, particularly among minority students. We need a greater focus on education, not economics, in our schools.