We all know how conservatives hold up home schooling as an ideal. In addition, they value private, charter, and religious schools over public schools (unless, of course, they’re owned by corporations). None of this disguises a deep-seated distrust for edu-ma-cation.
On February 25, at Talking Points Memo, Evan McMorris-Santoro reported on Rick Santorum’s reaction (which he subsequently walked back somewhat ) at a campaign appearance to President Obama’s plan to make college more accessible.
“President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said. “What a snob!”
Santorum started by saying some people don’t need to go to college: “Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands.” He then suggested there was an sinister motive behind Obama’s push to get more Americans in college classrooms.
“There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor… That’s why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image,” Santorum said.
McMorris-Santoro then questioned some of those in attendance.
“I thought that was brilliant,” said Angie Clement of Commerce, Mich. “Not everybody has to go to college. We need garbagemen, we need welders, carpenters.”
… “I think he’s saying, ‘Do you think that that’s the only way you can be a successful person? To go to college?’” said another attendee, Elizabeth, who didn’t want her last name used. “That is snobbery. In this entrepreneurial country that we have, where fortunes are made in a lot of ways — they’re not only made by college-educated people.”
They all agreed that college can help some people — but they also agreed that universities are basically socialism factories.
“They try and disguise it with, you know, ‘equal opportunity’…” Stephen Clement began. … “Where does the social engineering stop?”
What amounts to conservative disdain for pointy-headed intellectuals is, of course, nothing new. In its recent Civil War issue, the Atlantic published an 1865 report by northern journalist Sidney Andrews on his visit to post-war North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. You can see Red State suspicion of education as we know it today foretold.
Stopping for two or three days in some back county, I was always seeming to have drifted away from the world which held Illinois and Ohio and Massachusetts. … There is everywhere a lack of intellectual activity. Schools, books, newspapers,–why, one may almost say there are none outside the cities and towns. … In the important town of Charlotte, North Carolina, I found a white man who owned the comfortable house in which he lived, who had a wife and three half-grown children, and yet had never taken a newspaper in his life. He thought they were handy for wrapping purposes, but he couldn’t see why anybody wanted to bother with the reading of them. … In that State I found several persons–whites, and not of the “clay-eater” class, either–who never had been inside a school-house, and who didn’t mean to ‘low their children to go inside one. … Between Augusta and Milledgeville I rode in a stage-coach in which were two delegates of the Georgia Convention. When I said that I hoped the day would soon come in which school-houses would be as numerous in Georgia as in Massachusetts, one of them answered: “Well, I hope it’ll never come,–popular education is all a d–n humbug in my judgment”; whereunto the other responded, “That’s my opinion, too.” These are exceptional cases, I am aware, but they truly index the situation of thousands of persons. It is this general ignorance, and this general indifference to knowledge, that make a Southern trip such wearisome work.
At AlterNet, Sara Robinson recently wrote a scalding piece inspired by a New York Times article on how, as she summarizes, “blue states generally export money to the federal government; and red states generally import it.” Thus, progressives, especially in blue states, have “got every right to get good and angry about the fact that, by and large, the people who are getting our money are so damned ungrateful — not to mention so ridiculously eager to spend it on stuff we don’t approve of.” We’ll give Sara the final word on the red states’, uh, conflicted relationship with education.
Don’t ask us to pay to educate your kids if you’re not willing to have us teach them what we know about the world. We believe in free, comprehensive, rigorous and reality-based public education because it’s done more than any other government service to make us rich, powerful and successful; and we want the same for you.
We realize some of you aren’t too keen on public schools. It’s great that you want to take on more personal responsibility for educating your own kids. Just be warned: if you don’t teach them real science and real history — including evolution, climate change and the actual contents of the US Constitution — we’re probably not going to hire them. So we hope you’re also ready to take responsibility for that, too, which will probably mean supporting your grown kids in your basement until you die.