I mentioned something in the previous blog post about how academics is becoming less and less relevant in the United States of America.
And now I’m depressed and exasperated at seeing two proposals, from different places, suggesting that the way to
is through fixing our nation’s public schools.
- creating better health care outcomes by way of providing socialized support for everyone here, or
- honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final efforts on behalf of economic as well as racial equality by way of providing socialized support for everyone here.
The USA’s kindergarten-through-12th-grade public school systems are one of the most decentralized aspects of our public services. And the intersection of race, class, and decentralized funding is, more or less definitively, the central reason why public schools have become more and more racially segregated in the last several decades.
Decentralized tax funding of public school has created two main paths for parents seeking the best schooling for their children they can get:
- move to as affluent a neighborhood as possible that keeps your access to well-paying work, pay the property taxes, and send the kid/s to the best-quality public school affordable, or
- pay for 4 to 12 years of private school, as well as local property taxes – assuming your kid is accepted to a private school you can afford.
These options both consist of pay-for-education.
And then there’s still the systemic racism, and more, throughout the processes of employment, housing, and public and private schools. The kind that lead to school voucher programs and other programs that are ultimately founded on racism and/or cash for a better education.
(My public school education was a part of this. I went to a well-funded public school system, on the basis of large property taxes – taxes that were paid with hope and gratitude by my parents and other local parents of school-age children. I had access to resources to the point that I was taking well-taught college-level courses as a sophomore.
I wouldn’t be writing this without that schooling. I also probably wouldn’t have an Ivy League college degree, and the financial security and education that have come from that experience.
Postscript: my parents have moved away from that high-quality school system since the kids graduated.)
People tend to treat this system as normal.
It’s really not.
And that aspect is suggestive of how entrenched this system of local control is – which isn’t surprising in a country that has historically celebrated the idea of local governance as much as ours does.
Especially with how almost all political rhetoric supporting local governance is, both historically and in the present, a call for white people to be anti-Black and otherwise racist.
I’m writing this post from a place of anger and despair at there being relatively prominent calls for school reform.
Reforming the country’s K-thru-12 schools was a hot topic in politics at various points in my childhood and young adulthood – more or less until Obama was elected president, come to think of it.
From what I gather, basically every famous new trend (like charter schools), or famous new leader of reform (like Michelle Rhee), recreated the same problems with the system that the trend or leader was claiming to solve.
Because first off, they couldn’t undo the national system of local funding of public schools; and second of all, they were the product of, or were themselves, bullshit artists who acted like they could bail out the Titanic with a reinforced bucket.
Luckily, schooling mostly doesn’t matter anymore, at least in terms of educational content.
There’s not much to teach in the vast majority of public schools that can’t be learned through online and online-descended resources. There’s a limited amount of stuff you can only learn by being in school.
Like waking up before sunrise 5 days a week at the expense of your health, socializing with your peers in a highly regimented and poorly supervised group setting – and, if you’re lucky, classes like wood shop and music.
Also, it’s not like young folks are actually getting hired very much nowadays anyway, making the effort and expense of school education for the sake of a child’s economic future less and less relevant to much of anything.
Which leaves things in a bit of a mess.
But, more than that, it leaves calls for education reform that will never happen, as a solution to problems that are demonstrably able to be solved through socialist reforms that the nation can afford, while the job market for young people has cratered as a whole, as something worse than useless.
While everything is getting worse for nearly everyone.
Those sorts of red herrings set me on edge.