Monday, October 4, 2010

Waiting for Supermen

Screeners of the new film documentary, "Waiting for Superman" have been told to bring towels. As if the audience had no idea of the state of public education in America. It is true that there are those who live at such a remove from troubled school districts that they may have never actually been in a central city school, those living in rural Montana for example, but the rest of us have either fled them for cause (Obama fesses up) or their cable has been cut for the last 50 years. I spoke on this blog in February to some of the issues.

Let's allow the possibility that what these kids haven't been getting is absolutely known to all of us and we have chosen to do nothing about it. People within the Washington D.C. metro area who are old enough will remember "massive resistance" and those that don't ought to read this link. It is a perfect example of a very public expression of an area of the country saying no to integration because they knew that children of color were under educated in sub par schools and whites were not going to be forced into those schools. They didn't pretend they didn't know what was going on. They had supported keeping those kids in their place. And white kids were not going to that place.

But let's get some perspective here. To make the leap from; we are keeping the black and brown folk down, to, we have a broken system. is the height of public manipulation. Let's get some facts on the table before we get caught up in the great public diversion away from our other problems:
There is not one vacant seat in any of the colleges and universities in America. Evidence includes a discussion group that identifies the acceptance rate at leading universities and includes a discussion of Cal Tech. Cal Tech applicants come from California public schools.
There are millions of highly qualified, educated persons, standing in unemployment lines.
The economic success of the BRICs is not because their schools are better than ours. They have a work force that will work for less.
We are not losing our ability to compete in the world because some inner city kid is being trampled.

Another set of behaviors, educational outcomes, is more interesting to me:
The people who implement all the current forms of "massive or passive resistance" are highly educated.
The persons who designed and built the killer drone unmanned aircraft are all Ph.D. engineers.
The persons who designed and implemented the ad campaign for "Sugar Smacks" were all college grads.
Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Kennedy to name but two, are law school grads who voted to extend to corporations the rights of individuals.
All of the bankers and insurance company executives that have brought the world as we knew it to an end are business school graduates.
The Unabomber is a Harvard Graduate.
The geniuses that destroyed the American auto industry were all graduate engineers.
The persons who are asking for your tax dollars to support a manned mission to Mars, to sustain the thread of life that will expire on Earth, are all graduates of schools of higher education.
The generals that brought you Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan are all graduates of West Point.
The software engineers that gave you the ability to reduce human existence to the banality of tweets are all highly educated.

After the current round of the education debate is over, refueled by the guilt instilled by the latest film documentary on the subject, I am going to be asked to divert my money away from some form of self indulgence to support the improvement of the educational circumstances of under-privileged kids in city school systems. I will "resist". What I am more than ready to do is give up meat to challenge the efficacy of American higher education. I want my money to be used to create a set of objectives for our graduates that includes ethics, morals, and a sense of responsibility to our fellow human beings on this planet. Moral college graduates will not tolerate the destruction of others. They will improve education.

1 comment:

  1. The key failure, I think, is in the perception of education. We seem to want education to fix all the things we are unwilling to address. It seems to me that only a naif would believe that a better society could be built by better educated people. Education doesn't create better citizens. It simply creates citizens who are better informed. If you were a myopic asshole going in, after you've graduated you're simply a myopic asshole with a better toolkit. The more specialized the education, the truer it is.