My friend Scott Soodek wrote this to me recently:

I attended both of my daughter’s graduations this week. One got her Masters in Literacy from Hunter College (CUNY) and the other a BFA in Interior Design from Pratt Institute. The tone and content of the message from the speakers at each graduation was so contrasting, that it took me by surprise.

At the Pratt graduation, the speakers were Judy Collins, Richard Serra, Tommy DiPaola. All are artists whose message was now that you have accomplished this great task, let your creativity be your guide, carve out your own niche in the world of art and design. You have the talent, use it to become successful.

At the Hunter graduation, the speakers were Chuck Schumer [U.S. Senator from New York], Hilda Solis (Secretary of Labor) and Scott Stringer (Borough President of Manhattan). Their message was now that you have accomplished this great task, go out into the communities that you came from and give back. Fight for the poor, the downtrodden, the people who don’t have a voice. I didn’t hear one sentence uttered about making your own way and becoming a success.

I thought the difference between the artists and the government was striking.

Hunter College is “the largest college in the City University of New York (CUNY) system.” The message of Hunter’s commencement speakers is an accurate account of the mission of public schooling (and of most non-profit schooling), from kindergarten through graduate school. The model product of public schooling is Barack Obama.

See my refutation of The Collectivist Notion of “Giving Back to Society”.

Congratulations, Scott, to your daughters and to you and your wife.