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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Honey, I Saved the Kids (From the Public School System)

Here’s another sermon from a president who wants to be perceived as a model citizen:

I wouldn’t want to have my kids’ curriculum framed by teachers who, some 30 years ago, framed Ukrainian history classes. The times are different. The values are different. The knowledge is different.

And what makes you different from the oligarchs, who send their kids to private schools just like you did? What kind of value system is that? What kind of future is that?

If the President sends his kids to a private school, where does it leave the public school system? Does it make him an agent of change? A moral leader?

How can we have "one law for all" if we put this country through two "law" schools?

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Anonymous said...

It's one thing to make a moral stand, but it's another to force your kids to do it for you. I agree that the education system needs an overhaul, but I don't think Yushchenko needs to play the martyr in order to claim the moral superiority to do so. If people have the means, then they will likely try to do what's best for their children--it's only natural. Perhaps ideally, he would trust one of the public schools with a good reputation to send his kids, but it's his own decision to give them what he thinks is the best opportunity to succeed.

Taras said...

He doesn’t have to be a martyr to strike a high moral note.

All I want from him is to be the “people’s president” I voted and rallied for during the Orange Revolution. Unfortunately, he hasn’t lived up to that job title.

Instead, he often acts as a private citizen with little practical concern for the public good.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think he has an obligation to not let his son act like an asshole, and to not lead an extravagant lifestyle (a recent LEvko piece on the presidential mansion comes to mind, along with jet flights by his wife...), but I'm not going to begrudge his personal choices for the education of his children.

It's a problem very salient to Washington DC as well -- a city plagued by a derided public school system but home to the country's biggest politicians. Ideally the education system would be improved, but it's not that easy...

I just feel that as long as the kids don't misbehave too much (beyond the typical rebellion) then they should be given the chance to lead the best upbringing their parents can provide. That, in turn, gives them a good chance to give back to their country in the future -- especially when coupled with good parenting that instills a sense of patriotic responsibility as opposed to elitist aloofness.

Taras said...

You’re right to point out that problems exist in the US public school system, too.

When I was 15, I read an advocacy book about the voucher system. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember the title.)

As a high school student unhappy about the generalist curriculum of Ukrainian public schools, I wrapped my mind around self-education. I aggressively pursued the best practices in the field of knowledge acquisition. I thought that if our politicians did the same, then 15 years from now we’d be living in a much better country, an EU country.

I was wrong. I was stupid. Our politicians wrapped their minds around instant gratification. They specialized in self-aggrandizement.

So, it’s not a question of jealousy. It’s a question of justice.

And to the extent that Ukraine has a much lower per capita income and a much wider income gap, our school problem looms larger.

When we talk about the No. 1 public figure in the country, we don’t talk about behavioral standards that we apply to private citizens. It’s same as distinguishing the degrees of privacy enjoyed by public figures and private citizens.

The lifestyle escapades you mentioned further illustrate my point.

If you’re looking for a country with little to zero social responsibility, look no further.

In Ukraine, the ruling elites take a lot more than they give. They make fortunes for their kids, knowingly depriving other kids of their bare necessities. They do whatever they want secure in the knowledge that they will get away with it, while millions of Ukrainians struggle to make both ends meet.

That’s the kind of knowledge economy they’re building. In Ukraine, knowledge doesn’t mean a job, a job doesn’t mean an income, and an income doesn’t mean a home.

I don’t want this kind of value chain for Ukraine. And I’m sure you don’t want this kind of value chain for America.