Friday, September 9, 2016

If I've evolved...

New Trier's proposed $89 million renovation.
...from a Libertarian (yes, that's with a capital "L") to center-left on most issues in the last decade or so, I've become positively Marxist when it comes to education. (Maybe I always was.)

I bring this up now after reading two front-page articles in the Times yesterday and today.

If I were King for a Day I'd begin by closing all the private schools in America at every level tomorrow. No, make that today. And then I'd force everyone to send their kids to their local public school and fund them all equally from Washington. (I can practically hear everyone clicking off this page right now.)

I know what you're thinking (besides, this guy's f*****g nuts!): if everyone had to go to the same schools it would just drag them all down -- you know, like the Soviet Union. And that's not a bad argument. But from my experience living on the North Shore for over twenty years, when there aren't a lot of private school options (unlike, say, the East Coast) and people are essentially forced to send their kids to the local public schools, guess what? Everyone, especially the well-educated and concerned parents, invests in those schools (with both time and money) and they become really good. (Huh! Who woulda thunk it?)

Al Raby High School.
I know what you're thinking now: yeah, but those schools on the North Shore (and in Barrington, Hinsdale, Naperville, Flossmoor, etc.) are all locally funded by property taxes (which are deductible from your federal return). And that's where the second part of my directive comes in: all schools will be federally-financed at the same rate. So schools like Al Raby, on the West Side of Chicago, would get the same tax dollars as New Trier. And schools in Mississippi would get the same funding as schools in Connecticut. Same pay for teachers and administrators, same dollars for facilities, etc. That's right: from each according to his ability; to each according to his need. (I told you I was practically a Marxist on this issue.)

Now I know what you're thinking now: Outrageous! Why should I work hard and buy an expensive house in a good school district only to see my kid get the same education as some poor kid from the city?

And that's my point: If America is ever going to achieve equality of opportunity -- not outcome -- we're going to have to start at the very beginning -- education.

My kids are all grown and gone so I don't have a dog in this fight. Is this just pie-in-the-sky idealism? Of course it is! I'll never be King for a Day. (You can exhale now.)

But just think about it for a minute: Is our system really fair? Imagine you were a baby about to be born but didn't know if you'd be born into a rich family or a poor one. Would you really take a chance on the current system? Or does mine make a little more sense now?

4 comments:

Ed Crotty said...

100% agree.

Ed Crotty said...

100% agree.

James said...

I especially like the phrase "equality of opportunity". I also think it's a great point that parents supporting education with time and money is a cricial factor.

The education debate has been framed as schools letting down communities. As though there were some magic set of teaching skills that can eradicate hungry children, oversized classrooms, and language barriers.

Education can reflect a society as much as it can shape it. As long as people are left to struggle, schools will struggle with them.

The Truest said...

Right there with you BOWG. I cant see the powers that be being for it though. Cheap labor, law enforcement, and the prison industrial complex need the system as is to maintain status quo.