How do you feel about compulsory primary and secondary education in America?
Were you, due to your family’s racial or class position, relegated to the worst public schooling had to offer? Did your morning greeting consist of security guards and metal detectors? Did it occur to you that you were being warehoused in such a way that the only thing you were being taught was how to survive in prison? Did your high school’s graduation rate hover around 30%?
Did your parents send you to a charter school, with their wildly varying qualities and chance of creeping religious dominance? Or were you – again, with the same variability – homeschooled?
Perhaps you were a beneficiary of your family’s middle class status. Did your public school have robust Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs? Arts and humanities funding? Did the school administration treat you less like a future criminal and more like a potential mid-level bureaucrat? Did your parents pay for a tutor? If you were a good student, did you envision attending a private university, or if you won the lottery, one of the rarefied Ivy League institutions?
It’s statistically less likely your parents were among the economic elite. In their mostly closed system, the future upper echelon forgo public education altogether for private schooling, which functions both to provide them with something resembling a solid course of learning and like the Ivy League schooling sure to follow facilitates the establishment of lifelong connections with other elites. As Noam Chomsky posited, they’re also the most likely to be compliant and unquestioning about the system that has treated them so well.
How you feel about America’s educational system informs how you feel about the confirmation of the uniquely unqualified Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education and Republican Congressman Thomas Massie’s bill to abolish it. If you have children or nieces/nephews and find yourself in the midst the unwashed masses, you’re likely feeling full-scale revulsion. If you’re part of the one percent, things will proceed as they always have.
Whether DeVos gets an assist from lawmakers or not, the already sorry state of education will further degrade. But for most of us, it wasn’t satisfactory to begin with. We’re running on the Prussian Model, after all.
(Year Zero/Day Nineteen)