In education, the word “public” has come to mean a cookie-cutter sameness around pedagogical frameworks that are dogmatically secular.

So yes, Mr. Joseph Gauld, let’s do justice to a diverse population instead of using public education to “melt” difference into an imaginary, artificial and oppressive oneness (Maine Voices, “Obsolete education system leaves democracy defenseless,” Aug. 21).

Educate for functional citizenship but reconfigure the system around complete alternatives that reflect the diverse value of communities making up the actual public.

If not, then let’s stop pretending how open and tolerant American education is and recognize that just like in big-tent political parties, this openness ends up devaluing holistic contributions organized around a distinct identity.

This can only end up meaning that the goal of winning, either in test scores or elections, necessarily involves the suppression of fully developed alternative schools and parties.

This can’t sustain itself forever without begetting a bigoted, self-corrupting ethos because it is neither tolerant nor just regarding alternatives to itself.

We need the fully present and developed contributions of more than one version of public values if there is to be any hope for a revitalized public square.

Alan Toth is a resident of Rockland.