Acton Institute Powerblog

Public Schools: Adult Employment Programs

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

I’ve long argued that school choice is the quintessential bipartisan cause, with boundless potential to transform American primary and secondary education. Yet, for various reasons (all of them bad), it has failed to live up to that potential—its significant successes in various places notwithstanding.

One more anecdote to file away on this matter comes from Rich Lowry at NRO: the travails of Eva Moskowitz in New York City.

Favorite quote:

It’s amazing what you can accomplish, she says, when you design your schools “around teaching and learning and don’t think of yourself as an employment program for grown-ups.”

Kevin Schmiesing Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., is a research fellow for the research department at the Acton Institute. He is a frequent writer on Catholic social thought and economics, is the author of American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895-1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and is most recently the author of Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Lexington Books, 2004). Dr. Schmiesing holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Franciscan University ofSteubenville. Author of Within the Market Strife and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895—1955 (2002), he serves as Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also executive director of


  • Patrick Powers

    Consider that our President represents the very best that public education funds can buy, and that he is the most pro-abortion, socialist, and if the oil spill continues, least technically competent leader in the last 50 years or longer.
    The problem isn’t just the President, he represents a whole class of such people (See Arthur Brook’s “The Battle”).
    We need another Buckley to get the rats out of the ivy’d halls.
    I realize that this is meant to be a forum for freedom and virtue, but our finest educational institutions seems unable to deliver people capable of recognizing or seeking either.

  • Roger McKinney

    Patrick, I appreciate what you say, but I think the desire for socialism runs much deeper than just teaching in public school. Hayek thought socialism was a natural result of ethics developed in the family and tribal setting, and I think he has a point. But I think that it has to do with traditional Christianity. Modern liberty and capitalism came from Late Scholastic thought implemented in primarily Protestant nations. Capitalism and liberty require traditional Christian morality to support it, or people fall back on family/tribal ethics.

    But even deeper, socialism promises heaven on earth. It claims that people are born innocent and turn bad only because of oppression. The state can eliminate all oppression and thereby get rid of all evil in mankind. And socialism teaches the gospel of abundance, as Wallis likes to say. In other words, socialists believe that we can all be rich if the state will just get tough enough on rich people and force them to share.

    At the bottom, socialism sanctifies envy and elevates it to the highest virtue. That appeals to non-Christians.

  • Patrick Powers

    Roger, Thank you for your response, it has helped me focus my original intent about the education industry. Bill Bennett, a former Sec. of Education, authored “The Book of Virtues” motivated by his experience as Secretary. In this book we find such simple stories as “Chicken Little” and “Henny Penny”.
    Most of us are familiar with the stories and their of moral objectives. Jordan Bailor in a recent post generously shares reading such stories (the Chronicles of Narnia) at bedtime to his children. Without knowledge of these stories, it’s fair to say that an adult is “culturally illiterate”. (It would be interesting to find out if Wallis is familiar with the Henny Penny story).
    Kevin’s original topic might be expressed as a criticism of the government monopoly of education to meet union, rather than student, needs. My concern is that the education industry, at its highest levels, turns out cultural illiterates and moral midgets. Many in this administration have attended the best universities in the nation, yet they are failing. Their knowledge or reliance on the constitution seems laughable. Yet the Framers, produced one of most magnificent documents ever, relying on their knowledge of the classic authors, history and practical industry, along with the Judeo-Christian heritage.