Support and invest in public schools to produce good citizens: Lawrence Diggs

There are those among us who seem to be trying to destroy our public school system. They will often deny it in polite company, but in private conversations they will rant about how public schools are unconstitutional. They will complain about wasting their tax money. They will introduce and or support legislation to cripple or destroy the public school system. They will join local school boards, even state and national education boards with the intent of destroying the public school system from within. They constantly disparage and make life miserable for teachers while doing nothing to help them help the kids.

It seems that they are not necessarily against education. But rather they are against equal education for all citizens. They want good education for kids they know and love, but not the other kids.

They want their kids to have educations as long as they have complete control of what is taught, though when pressed, they seem to have no idea about what kids need to know to make good future citizens. In order to give their kids an advantage they send their kids to private schools while trying to suck the life out of public schools. Now they want to use public tax dollars to support their private schools.

The mission of our public school system needs to be making good citizens. If not the public school system, then who? What other institution bears that responsibility?

Good citizens need to be able to read, write and be competent in math. Good citizens need to be able to hear accurately what others are saying and express clearly what they are thinking. Good citizens need to be able to think rationally and recognize the cognitive biases and fallacies we all can fall prey to. Good citizens need to be able to communicate and help our country to run smoothly. They need good interpersonal skills. Good citizens should be able to “disagree without being disagreeable”.

Some will say it is the responsibility of the parents to teach such things. Parents can’t teach what they don’t know. Even if they know such things, if they have to work two jobs to keep food on the table, when is that teaching supposed to happen. Delegating such responsibilities to parents, especially without helping them, is just a guilt dumping dereliction of duty on our part.

We need public schools because the public has a critical need for citizens who are competent in navigating and participating in the public space. We need good citizens and we need to take responsibility for making sure all our citizens are competent.

Since we all need all our citizens to be competent, it seems to follow that we all need to support and invest in the success of our public schools. None of us can do everything but all of us can do something to improve our public schools. Let’s all do something. A society with any hope of continuation cannot leave this to chance.

Lawrence Diggs, Roslyn, is an author and professional public speaker. Write him at

This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: Support and invest in public schools to produce good citizens