Speaking of the state of the education system (see comments on Hedon’s post yesterday, and her tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory), I have a conspiracy theory of my own, not tongue-in-cheek, however. And since it’s an election year and each candidate has their own ideas on how to improve education, I’ve been giving it a bit of thought.
It seems to me that I’ve been hearing about our lousy education system for as long as I can remember. Students from the U.S.A. continue to slip down the international rankings among developed nations. We put more money into the schools, we institute new standards for schools, we talk about accountability for schools, teachers and parents. Yet students keep graduating high school and can’t read, or locate the United States on a globe, or as we all see every day at fast food restaurants, do simple math.
It is cried that we won’t be able to compete in the future if we don’t have a better educated population. It all seems very dire and scary for us. I agree that it is dire and it is scary. I just don’t agree that the politicians actually want to change it and make it better.
There are certain issues which are hot button topics that drive voters to the polls (e.g. abortion, gay marriage, entitlement programs, the environment). Education is certainly one of these. It is not in the politicians’ best interest to definitively resolve these issues. When Hedon first suggested this idea to me, several years ago, I wasn’t so sure. Since then, though, I’ve become sure it’s good logical sense. Keep the hot issues hot, to keep the voters going to the polls.
If this is the case, we can’t expect any solution anytime soon, if ever. Still, it’s not enough of an answer for me. I think there’s even more to it.
We know our education system was designed to educate people to take jobs in factories and offices upon completion of high school. The powers-that-be of the time wanted their future employees to be well-behaved, capable of performing endlessly repetitive and dull work, and to obey authority without question. We also know that this system isn’t as useful in today’s world. We supposedly need people who can think out of the box, who can perform well in groups and who are technologically savvy.
But is that really what we need? Or, more to the point, is this really what the powers-that-be want from us, in any wholesale manner? We are all in thrall to the mega-wealthy white men who actually run this country. And let’s face it, what these people want, these people get. So the real question in regards to problems in education is not what would be best for all of us, it is what the fat cats think is best for them.
It’s entirely possible that the fat cats would prefer to keep the vast majority of the population ignorant. Throughout history it has been shown that an uneducated populace is much easier to control than one which is educated and capable of rational thought. Uneducated people are primed for misdirection and manipulation.
Okay, you may say, but don’t the fat cats need educated people working in their mega-huge corporations? How can they get them if they deliberately keep the population ignorant? I think they know that in a huge population like ours has grown to be, a small number of people will become adequately educated despite the odds. And I think they believe that small number is all they actually need.
We’ve seen the power that can be wielded over a large group of ignorant people. In a way, it’s heartbreaking to hear people defend George W. Bush, the same people who have lost jobs, homes and family members (in an illegal war) all because of G.W.’s decisions, a man who is the most obvious shill of the fat cats that the modern era has seen. Heartbreaking and maddening.
It’s because of these points, that I believe the educational system of this country will not be fixed anytime in the foreseeable future.