What Matt Damon doesn't understand about public schools

Actor Matt Damon has been sharply criticized for moving his own children to private schools. Damon and his critics all miss the big picture. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

LOS ANGELES, August 9, 2013 — Leftist Hollywood celebrity and public school champion Matt Damon created a stir by announcing that he would place his children in private schools rather than in the Los Angeles public schools.

Damon, the son of a school teacher, is moving his family from New York to Los Angeles, and does not feel that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the right fit for his children. His critics labeled Damon a typical liberal Hollywood hypocrite. He has been a cheerleader for public schools, and this does seem to be a case of his deeds drifting from his words.

Both Damon and his critics are missing the big picture.

Damon can be forgiven for wanting to keep his kids out of LAUSD schools. Liberals hate being told that public schools are where children go to die, but they have no answers to prevent these deaths. Between drugs, guns, and bullying, today’s children have no chance. The public schools have failed America’s children, and will continue to fail them until politicians have the courage to break the stranglehold of the education unions.

Numerous liberal politicians and celebrities have praised public schools to the heavens and then put their own children in private schools. When it comes to the welfare of their children, we’re willing to wink at a certain amount of hypocrisy. 

Where Damon is different from usual liberal education hypocrites is in his reason for eschewing LAUSD: It has nothing to do with privacy or safety. Damon is concerned that none of the public schools are politically progressive enough. He is not afraid of drug dealers or gang members; he is terrified his children might be exposed to Republicans and conservatives.

Damon’s thinking, if one wants to call it that, has two major flaws.

First of all, he is wrong. The Los Angeles public schools are every bit as liberal as his Hollywood bubble. Faculty lounges are one of the last areas where liberalism thrives, and that’s as true in Los Angeles as in New York. LA public schools are where children in 2009 were taught to chant “Barack Hussein Obama” and sing his praises. Outside of Mao Zedong’s China, it would be hard to find schools that so perfectly toe the leftist line.

Children in Los Angeles learn early on about diversity, multiculturalism and tolerance, which are all code words for pushing the leftist position on social issues as the only acceptable point of view. Social conservatives are seen as intolerant bigots. This is one of the reasons that the culture wars have moved sharply to the left. Whether you are for or against gay marriage, you cannot deny that college students overwhelmingly support it. That is because the schools taught them that supporting it was the only decent option.

The second problem is Damon’s complete lack of understanding of what a public school education is supposed to do.

Public schoolteachers are not supposed to push any political agenda, be it liberal or conservative. They are supposed to teach reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, science, and social studies. They are also supposed to teach handwriting, which seems to be a forever lost skill in the age of computers.

Damon confuses indoctrination with education. He was indoctrinated with leftism since birth. He jokes that his mother refuses to read anything to the right of “The Nation.” She was horrified to see him on the pages of a magazine that actually had ads to sell things, believing that made him just another “cog in the machine.”

Many religious schools provide an excellent education along with indoctrination. Whether it is Jewish, Catholic, or Baptist,  religious indoctrination goes hand in hand with the curriculum to produce solid, educated citizens with a moral world view.

Leftism is Damon’s religion, and he has every right to teach it to his children. Where he loses steam is in thinking that specifically political indoctrination can produce a well-rounded, intelligent young adult. Politics may often be religious, but it is not religion. You can go to a Catholic school and still learn that people of other faiths are good human beings with legitimate points of view. Political ideology is about winning, so it is much more black-and-white, much more adversarial. A leftist education cannot accept conservative ideas as simply different, or even as well-intentioned but misguided. It must reject them as absolutely illegitimate, and reject conservatives not as fellow seekers after truth, but as enemies of it.

This leads indoctrinated children to become mini-Damons, blinded by leftist passions and unable to critically think about issues or accept reasoned arguments contradicting their own. Damon’s expressed views on global warming and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) clearly show a man steeped in passion, but lacking the facts and unwilling to hear them. Leftism is his dogma, and there can be no challenging his godly beliefs.

Religious indoctrination requires an acceptance of faith. Politics requires logical reasoning, which Damon is inadvertently seeking to suppress. This will harm his children in the long run if they become mouthpieces unable to express themselves in an intelligent manner. Spouting beliefs without knowing why they believe what they believe would be harmful for them and people they interact with.

For public schools to succeed, they should educate without political indoctrination. Damon prefers indoctrination, and is appropriately paying for it with his own money.

Yet conservatives are making a mistake by getting angry over his hypocrisy for one reason. Damon is irrelevant. One should not claim Hollywood celebrities are mindless hypocrites and then give them elevated status. Either they matter or they do not.

Damon is inconsequential. Like many other media outlets from newspapers to magazines, Damon is seeing his most recent political movies fail. When he puts out action movies that are apolitical, he succeeds. When he alienates half of America, he flops at the box office.

Let him fail. Skip his movies. Either he will learn, and stop producing leftist nonsense, or he will go broke and drive away customers, as the New York Times, Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine have done.

Either way, America will be a better country. It would also be a priceless education for the next pious, smug celebrity overstating his own importance while not knowing much of anything.


Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter Read more: Obama’s appearance on Leno: What we learned



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Eric Golub

Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger, author, public speaker, and comedian. His book trilogy is “Ideological Bigotry,” “Ideological Violence,” and  “Ideological Idiocy.” 

He is Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1990. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Judaism, and his MBA from USC. A stockbrokerage professional since 1994, he began blogging on March 11th, 2007, the three year anniversary of the Madrid bombings and the midpoint of 9/11. He has been inflicting his world view on his unfortunate readers since then. He blogs about politics Monday through Friday, and about football and other human interest items on weekends.



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