Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Educating America (OR Not) and At What Cost

By: Ruth Wilkins

The school district selects curriculum guides and textbooks that are reflective of a state's learning standards and benchmarks for a given grade level. Learning Standards are the goals by which states and school districts must meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) as mandated by No Child Left Behind (Wikipedia, Education in America).

 No child left behind sound great but according to my text book from the time this program was mandated more and more children have been left behind (Sociology, The Essentials p352) If something does not change soon (and I do mean sooner than you think) our nation will be left behind and scrambling to catch up with countries like China and Singapore. I do not mean that phony change like fixing the books, you know when they make it look good for appearances. I mean real change with educating everyone, rich, poor and in between.

Here is a video on what we are up against and how far we have fallen behind:

As I took time to review “Brown vs. The Board of Education” one key phrase stood out to me, “…separate education facilities are inherently not equal” (Wikipedia, Brown v. Board of Edu.) Of course that was in 1954 when racial inequality was at its best (although some would argue that it was at its best during slavery).

In 2011 we as a country do not only still see racial disparities everyday, but now we are financially, economically and socially prejudiced and segregated. I wonder if our American forefathers and ancestors seen that coming (they probably did).

 I also read the 14th Amendment; this is what the decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education was based on. Here is my interpretation on a very prevalent line”…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty and property…” Shouldn’t knowledge qualify as property; granted you can’t touch it, per say, but once you have it, it is yours. You own what you know.

Why do we allow ourselves to be deprived of this particular property? With it we can have the possibilities of a better quality of life, we can better pursue our liberties and understand them more clearly and our properties become invaluable and priceless. Forgive me as I throw my own twist on an American slogan that has been over done- Education: priceless.

Before my grandmother died, she would always say get your education and get as much as you can because no matter what people take from you, they can’t take that. And for those of you who need clarification, it means the government can take your house, the bank can take your car, your neighbor can take your husband (and she can have him), but once you learn something it’s yours. You can hone it, you can ignore it and you can share it. Do with it what you will, it’s yours.

But what happens when you can’t get it, because it’s not being offered to you or what’s offered is inferior to what others get. Or it’s being offered but you don’t know about it because it’s limited, sssshhhh don’t tell everyone because there isn’t enough to go around.

I will tell you what happens. Crime happens, the miseducation of our children happens (I borrowed that from Lauren Hill), teenage pregnancy happens, unemployment happens and happens, the gap between the have and the have nots widens, so on and so forth. This cost is so great you can’t begin to put a price on it, because it becomes immeasurable.

There was a time when we came together to change things. We united because we knew change for the better benefits all of mankind. There was a time when America was one of the top countries in education, we not only kept up with our counterparts we surpassed most of them. Now we are 17th in education(Youtube, ABC World News). Our education system has taken a back seat to so many other more important government programs (sarcasm) that it almost feels as though we are on our own. Divided we stand, divided we fall.

I don’t know how we as a group (those without the finances for an elite education) can overcome this. And I could beat this horse to death. But I am worried for all American citizens, my children, your children and his children. We can’t continue to be a power country with an education standing of 17th in the world.

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