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.
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.”