Public Education: When did the rural point of view become socialist?

Robert Pratt photo Copyright Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt

The Reverend Horton Heat has a fun song we play exiting to break on Pratt on Texas titled “Rural Point of View” and no doubt, regular listeners have heard the lyric asking “Yeah, I’ve got a rural point of view; And I’m not tryin’ to tell you what to do; I just think you’d find; That you just might change your mind; If you thought about the rural point of view.”

I come from a rural point of view, was reared on a farm miles from any town, and went to school and engaged in commerce in a small town. What I didn’t expect to find was that all of the sudden, the rural point of view is the pro-socialist, big-government, anti-markets view in the Texas Legislature.

“How rural lawmakers killed school choice legislation in Texas,” is the title of a big political story by Julie Chang and Dan Hill in the Austin American-Statesman. It details how legislators from rural districts are those effectively defeating efforts at school choice and introducing competition into the government-run education racket.

I’d argue that it is the American experience which tells us that the only thing which provides lasting improvement to any good or service has been competition.

Republican state Representative Gary VanDeaver of New Boston in East Texas was quoted as saying: Rural Republicans, I think, really are kind of the pivot point in this whole discussion. I believe that anything that pulls anything from public school system rather than improving it is not good policy.” (For the record, VanDeaver is a lifelong public school administrator but is joined in sentiment by many who are not.)

I argue that it is the American experience which tells us that the only thing which provides lasting improvement to any good or service is competition. Without meaningful competition, in any field of endeavor, we get slow-to-no innovation; experience bloated bureaucracies, and; find institutions inwardly focused as opposed to upon the needs of those they serve.

With competition, parents would have to take children from public schools and move them elsewhere before any financial harm could come to a public school which brings us to the most amusing part of the anti-choice argument which is that competition would “hurt” public schools.

Such an argument is a direct admission, if harm were to come, that such schools must not be providing as good a service as taxpayers and parents wish for their children. All of which is an argument for choice if one has intellectual honesty in the matter.

I’ve never been embarrassed of my rural background or point of view but, I’m damned embarrassed that a bunch of Republicans claiming rural-roots favor a Soviet or Chinese-style state education system over one with at least some market forces at work.


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