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Vaccinations and Public Education

Issues, MissionTalking Trash

Polls tell us that people who voted for Trump were less educated. Like the president, they were also more likely to believe the discredited and erroneous idea that vaccinations cause autism.  Voters were also divided in their tendency to believe a variety of crazy things. There has been a lot of mockery surrounding these facts, but mockery won't change the reality. We have a problem, a lot of people are willing to believe things that are not true, illogical, and simply nonsensical. Gibberish is overtaking rational discourse.

Why is that? A lot of it has to do with the kind of gullibility to propaganda, to information that runs counter to established knowledge, that kind of understanding that people get from reading books and thinking critically about what they have to say. It depends on having more than one source of information, of having the habit of double-checking statements for accuracy, the way people learn how to write term papers, conduct lab tests, and write the results from testing hypotheses, subjecting the work to helpful and instructive critical review.

For many of our fellow citizens, the gift of a good education was not provided. Many of them resent those who did receive the bounty of our extraordinarily rich endowment of knowledge.  The rhetoric of privilege and elitism rings true, in part, because it is true.  The truth of zip codes being predictive of educational and economic success is part of the same heritage that is celebrated by those who received a better share of the bounty.  Education alone does not solve the problems we have, but it is a start. 

Just as vaccines prevent epidemics, societies that have a large, well-educated middle class are unlikely to fall prey to dictators. Education vaccinates societies from rule by despots. We need to make sure that more people are educated and have access to high-quality schools. As it turns out, those schools tend to be public schools with a mission to promote an educated society. We need to support them, even as critical friends, to help them improve and become the vehicle of opportunity we need now more than ever.  Public schools do surprisingly well compared to private schools and there is evidence to back up that conclusion from the information we have. 

The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools
By Christopher A. Lubienski, Sarah Theule Lubienski