This may seem rudimentary to some folk, but it’s important nonetheless: no matter what arguments conservatives come up with to resist or oppose this or that effort to improve public education, the threshold question to ask them is whether they believe in public education at all. It’s really not something you can take for granted these days, and I’m not being snarky about this or adopting some ideological definition of “believe in” or “public.” Check out this AP report from Texas:

Socialist and keeping kids in a `Godless environment’ is what advisers to the new Texas lieutenant governor are calling a major push to improve pre-K statewide.

The letter sent Tuesday to lawmakers is a direct jab at a major priority for new Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

It was written by a “grassroots advisory” board of conservative activists that Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick assembled upon taking office in January. Patrick is a firebrand tea party leader who is popular with Texas ultraconservatives.

Patrick spokesman Alejandro Garcia said the letter was unsolicited and “expresses the individual viewpoints of Texas citizens.”

The letter goes on to say that public pre-K has no long-term benefits and removes children from religious preschools.

Aha. Regular old K-12 public schools also “remove” children from religious schools, or from home-schooling, or from other Godly Environments. So there’s nothing you can do to placate these people on education issues, other than agreeing to abolish public schools altogether.

It saves a whole lot of time and trouble to keep this in mind.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.