If you pay attention to the rhetoric of some public education critics, you might be led to believe that our schools are left-wing "indoctrination" centers or even downright un-American. My guess is that these folks figure linking public education to the specter of liberalism and challenging the patriotism of school officials is a way to win voters over to the idea of diverting public dollars to private school choice.
If you have spent much time in South Carolina's public schools lately, you'd likely see the absurdity of the critics' claims. My experience is that schools are bastions of patriotism and community spirit.
I recall covering a Veterans Day event at Boiling Springs High School when I was a reporter at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. The marching band played patriotic songs, including those of each branch of the armed forces. Veterans from the community stood and were recognized when their branch's song was played.
I've been to similar Veterans Day programs at other schools in the area.
History courses get an unfair rap for supposedly teaching an anti-American bent. My experience as a parent and as an educator is that most instruction -- as mandated by state standards, of course -- focuses on solid historical fact as well as stories and ideas that promote a patriotic viewpoint.
Meanwhile, schools are major contributors to community causes. During the holidays, school students raise money or provide food and gifts for poor families. They frequently participate in Relay for Life events and other important fundraisers. Students often work as volunteers with younger children or with senior citizens.
Public schools encourage and support this sort of community engagement.
The image of public education as some sort of communist front or as places that tear down traditional American values is hogwash.
So, rather than listening to the noisy rhetoric of the anti-public educaton crowd, go and visit a public school and see what I'm talking about for yourself.
If you work in a public school, I encourage you to leave a comment about things that go on at your school to promote nationalist spirit and community involvement.