Boots & Sabers

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0741, 11 Mar 21

“Government Schools”

A letter to the Washington County Daily News complains about my use of the phrase “government schools.”

To the editor: Language and the meaning of words are important. Among many other disagreements I have with Owen Robinson regarding political philosophy and policy, an important pet peeve of mine is the distorted use of language and adjectives used for propaganda purposes. There is no such thing as “sanctuary county.” The term should not be used by the public, by the media or the propagandists. There also is no such thing as “government schools” in our nation. The correct term is “public schools,” financed by taxpayers, locally overseen by an elected school board, with more oversight by the elected Legislature, the governor and the superintendent of Public Instruction. Suggest not using the propagandist language and calling it out when heard.


Stephen Roberts


West Bend

Who gets to decide what the “correct” term is? Isn’t “public school” just as much propaganda (if you want to use that word) as “government school?” The word choice conveys a message and carries a different connotation even though both are accurate.

I choose to call them “government” schools because I think it is more accurate. There are many things that are “public” that are not owned and operated by the government. For example, grocery stores and restaurants are open to public access, but not operated by the government. Utilities are considered a public entities, but not owned and operated by the government. Even some prisons are public institutions, but not owned or operated by the government. So for me, “public school” is too broad a definition. It could include Choice schools and even some Charter schools – institutions that are funded by taxpayers, but not operated by the government.

“Government” schools, however, is a more precise definition for what I am talking about. I’m talking about institutions that are owned and operated wholly by the government. All of the employees are government employees. And it is governed by an elected body. I prefer this more accurate characterization than the gauzy term “public school.”


0741, 11 March 2021


  1. jsr

    And when a business “goes public” it’s selling shares to the public, not being taken over by the government. I’ve even seen the term “public business” used to refer to a corporation that is “publicly traded”.

  2. Mar

    There some rocks rattling around Stephen’s head.

  3. Jason

    Stephen’s anal retentive obsession with words used instead of the central point of the article reminds me of Leroy Cuomo.

  4. Mark Hoefert

    This circles back to Trump using the term “government” schools in his 2020 State of the Union Speech. I guess that was one of the documented Trump “lies”.

    Waiting to hear Biden stumble over the term – will he say “pubic” schools or “pube lick” schools?

  5. Mark Hoefert

    From WI Retirement System brochure.

    Today more than 648,000 current and former state and local government employees and
    their families rely on the WRS for some of their retirement security. These individuals,
    along with their employers, contribute to the WRS throughout their careers.

    39% of the employees currently employed in the above categories (“state and local government employees” are “teachers”)

  6. Tuerqas

    What a classic case of dishing it out in spades, but not taking a lick in return. It is okay to change the meaning of words like marriage et al, for propagandist reasons.

    Government schools is a much more accurate title, wish I had thought of it. And as for connotations, I don’t really see the problem. Liberalism is already synonymous with greater Government control, they should be fine with that terminology. Do they still think the phrase ‘public schools’ hoodwinks conservatives into believing that Government schools are unbiased institutions and that they serve the whole public rather than heavily favoring liberals?

    Of course, we all know the answer to that. Liberals are obsessed with appearing to be the all inclusive group and to say or even use connotations to imply otherwise is to be opened up for PC shaming (and getting tossed out of the group, heh).
    ‘There is too such a thing as same sex marriage, just look at the definition in a newer Liberal-Webster…I mean Miriam-Webster dictionary, but the only terminology for a public school is Public School!’ Public outing verbal accuracy…what a childish hypocrite Stephen Roberts is. Though he is a model liberal, musta gone to pubic school.

  7. Mark Hoefert

    Message from the Office of Open Government

    It is imperative that we recognize that transparency is the cornerstone of democracy and that citizens cannot hold elected officials accountable in a representative government unless government is performed in the open. The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) plays an important role in ensuring Wisconsin’s open government laws are properly and faithfully executed by public officials. The Office of Open Governmenthas worked to reduce DOJ’s average public record response times. The office also makes available online a snapshot of all public records requests pending each
    week, average monthly response times for the office, and responses to public records requests that may be of public interest. DOJ responds to hundreds of inquiries every year concerning issues related to the open meetings law and the public records law, and instructs on open government at dozens of conferences, seminars, and training sessions. In these ways, the Office of Open Government provides resources and services to all state, regional, and local government entities and citizens.

    Schools are not called out as some kind of special non-governmental entity, and they are accountable to the Office of Open Government().

    There are about 40 case citations referring to schools and issues related to Open Government statutes being applicable to them.

  8. Mar

    I’m not sure of your point Mark.
    I’m pretty sure teachers make up the largest group of government employees.

  9. Tuerqas

    Mar, I believe Mark was pointing out that schools are called a Government entity in all the Government statutes and regulations, etc. Thus ‘Government schools’ is actually a very accurate phrase.
    At least, that is what I took from it.

  10. steveegg

    How about “WEAC schools”, because that’s who owns them (and the Democrat Party of Wisconsin)?

  11. Mark Hoefert

    Yes Tuerqas & Mar – was trying to point out examples where public schools (& employees) are referred to as governmental(</b), not as "public". The numbers come from the brochure I linked to.

    In some cases, WRS does refer to Milwaukee School District teachers separately – that is because they had an existing pension plan of their and they merged themselves into the WI plan. At one point there was talk of merging the Milwaukee County pension system into WRS, but I suspect their past fiscal ineptitude has been memory holed.

    At least we learned a new trigger word today. From here on out I will try to use the term "government" school. Just my little nod to the First Amendment.

    Ironically, a Blue Anon conspiracy theory thinks there is an agenda to destroy public schools as we now know them. They are right, but wrong about who is going to bring them down. Someone calling them "government" schools should be the least of their worries.

  12. Mark Hoefert

    Did not mean to bold everything.

  13. Owen

    That was a bold move.

  14. Mar

    “There is no such thing as “sanctuary county.” The term should not be used by the public, by the media or the propagandists.”
    So now, this pin head is now the sole arbitrar as to what words a person can use?
    What a narcissist.

  15. Tuerqas

    That is funny on the Sanctuary county thing. If you enter ‘sanctuary county’ into Google you get ‘about 57,500,000 hits’ in less than a second, including listings in most of the individual states of America. That’s a lot of hits for for something that does not exist…

  16. Mark Hoefert

    I guess “sanctuary city or county” is become a self-declared identity, sort of like gender. There is no official connotation. Some recent articles say “so-called” or ‘sanctuary’ city or county.

    But the New York Times is OK with using the term without qualification.

    ‘Flood the Streets’: ICE Targets Sanctuary Cities With Increased Surveillance Headline New York Times 3/5/2020

  17. MjM

    THAT Stephen Roberts? Chairman of the Washington County Democrat Party?

    “financed by taxpayers, “

    …as are all g’vment bodies, by taxpayers forced to pay those taxes by…. governments.

    “locally overseen by an elected school board, “

    A.K.A. a government body.

    “with more oversight by the elected Legislature”

    A.K.A . A government body.

    “the governor “

    Pssssst. Stephen. Dude. It’s right there—-> G. O. V. E. R. N. or.

    “ and the superintendent of Public Instruction. “

    a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives.

    Owen 1 Stephen 0. (a BIG 0)

  18. Mar

    So, a nobody?

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