In denial

Washington Post writer George Will is sharp as a tack, which is why he ends today's column, about David Whitman's new book, thusly: "Today's liberals favor paternalism--you cannot eat trans fats; you must buy health insurance--for everyone except children. Odd." Odd indeed that schools of education, teachers' unions, and the majority of the politicians who enjoy their backing continue, against all evidence, to reject k-12 paternalism and push for toothless, standards-less, fluffy, self-esteem-centered education. But it's fully baffling that the very people (most of them liberal) who run the paternalistic schools about which Whitman writes (KIPP, Amistad, SEED, etc.) would also reject the paternalism label, as most of them do. Eric Adler, the venerable co-founder of the SEED School, objected to the word and told Whitman that "calling a school paternalistic implies that its staff is asserting that it ‘knows better than others--like parents or the neighborhood'--which values schools should transmit." Of course, SEED's whole model is to actively remove students from their parents and neighborhoods and steep the pupils in values that they don't get at home. The progressive leaders of these paternalistic schools may not like the labeling, but they like the practice. Too bad they won't admit it.

"Where Paternalism Makes the Grade," by George Will, Washington Post, August 21, 2008

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