This is a little overdue, but I tend to go away from computers and other electronicy things on the weekends, and so I didn’t see the request for a new post until this morning. I apologize for the delay.
Late last week, a lively discussion arose in the comments under the Comment of the Week post concerning Penn Jillette, his views on public education, and the libertarian (or Libertarian) wing of the skeptical movement. The problem was, only a handful of the folks posting comments in that thread were involved in the discussion, so we decided to post a main entry for those who may not have been reading the CotW, and to allow the discussion to continue without bogging down Rebecca’s already awesome thread. (Sorry, there aren’t really any twins.)
First, I suggest you read the pertinent comments under the CotW post (comment #s 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 27, 28). That’s where the meat of this discussion is, but I’ll give you a brief back story:
At The Amaz!ng Meeting, during Penn & Teller’s disturbingly weak question and answer session, Penn made what, to me, appeared to be an offhand remark to the effect that all public schools should be abolished. It seemed he was more in favor of making education available within a free market framework than he was for doing away with education completely.
Now, I don’t get tingly with anticipation to find out what Penn’s political views are, so I personally didn’t give it another thought. Thankfully, however, Skepchick readers pay much better attention than I do to these types of things, and our friend, Joshua, very correctly pointed out my mistake by linking to this Penn & Teller interview.
Seems there is more to it than I had originally thought. Both Penn and Teller appear to hold to the notion that nothing resembling any conventional education system is required for every child to learn what most of us picked up in public schools.
In addition to that, there were some questions raised about apparent inconsistencies in Penn’s thinking. Blake Stacey pointed out:
I found it just a little weird when Penn Jillette said that we should abolish the public school system and make â€˜em all private and then turned around to complain about what Hearst did to commercialize, sensationalize and ruin the press.
At any rate, we just wanted to make this discussion available to everyone. So take a few moments to read through the comments in the CotW thread, and feel free to continue the discussion here.