I've seen two examples of public school advertising this week, both of which did nothing for my dislike of the scam, I mean, system.
First: three days ago I was sitting at a stop light (which in our town can take up to five minutes at a time) and a shopping center marque sign was scrolling through some names of local school kids. At the end of the list, the screen said they were being recognized for their "behavior, attitude, respectfulness, and kindness." I read that and I thought, "Not one of those attributes has anything to do with scholarship." I looked at the list and thought it could be summed up as "these students are being honored for being easily controlled."
Second: today I was driving home and saw a bumper sticker advertising a local elementary school. The sticker read, "Learners today are leaders tomorrow." I thought, "What reason do we have to believe that? Are any of the parents of those students leaders? Probably not. Many, many more Americans are followers, being led by others. Their children, more likely, are the next generation of followers. And a school that is organized by the true leaders is more likely to teach the next generation how to be good followers than how to be leaders."
I dislike hokey pro-educational-establishment propaganda. Teachers and their supporters like to tell you that they're doing an indespensible service. Now, no one should feel comfortable dumping on others doing what they can with what they have, but when those others try to cover their shortcomings by calling themselves noble, the rest of us don't have to buy it. The fact is that teachers work 9 months a year, 7 hours a day, and draw salaries that reflect this. They voluntarily chose to enter the field, meaning they self-identified as having skills worth the salary they draw. Steven E. Landsburg notes in his book Fair Play:
First, colleges weed out a lot of weak students. According to standard aptitude tests, college graduates are, on average, far brighter than college freshmen; in fact two thirds of all college graduates were in the top half of their freshman classes (as measured by standard aptitude tests). On the other hand, those college graduates who go into teaching are, on average, about exactly as bright as college freshman [sic]; among students who become teachers, only half were in the top half of their freshman classes. It's as if the weeding-out process completely bypasses the education majors. (p. 30)And since I just pissed off a lot of people who take it as given that teachers are like overweight middle-aged female Jesuses, let me just say before I turn you loose in the comments section that telling me how wonderful, selfless, caring, and sacrificing teachers are is not the same as showing that they provide a necessary service or possess skills worth more than their current salaries.