Making American Schools Less Great Again

Yves here. This is a personal vignette about setting up government for failure. A teacher describes how budget cuts to schools in her district produced predictable results: overcrowded classrooms, diminished attention to students, particularly ones who would have benefitted from support. And perhaps as important, exhaustion and demoralization among teachers trying to cope.

Belle Chesler, a visual arts teacher in Beaverton, Oregon. Originally published at TomDispatch

Three weeks ago, I sat in a cramped conference room in the large public high school where I teach in Beaverton, Oregon. I was listening to the principal deliver a scripted PowerPoint presentation on the $35-million-dollar budget deficit our district faces in the upcoming school year.

Teachers and staff members slumped in chairs. A thick funk of disappointment, resignation, hopelessness, and simmering anger clung to us. After all, we’ve been here before. We know the drill: expect layoffs, ballooning class sizes, diminished instructional time, and not enough resources. Accept that the teacher-student relationship — one that has the potential to be productive and sometimes even transformative — will become, at best, transactional. Bodies will be crammed into too-small spaces, resources will dwindle, and learning will suffer. These budgetary crises are by now cyclical and completely familiar. Yet the thought of weathering another of them is devastating.

This is the third time in my 14-year-career as a visual arts teacher that we’ve faced the upheaval, disruption, and chaos of just such a budget crisis. In 2012, the district experienced a massive shortfall that resulted in the firing of 344 teachers and bloated class sizes for those of us who were left. At one point, my Drawing I classroom studio — built to fit a maximum of 35 students — had more than 50 of them stuffed into it. We didn’t have enough chairs, tables, or spaces to draw, so we worked in the halls. 

During that semester I taught six separate classes and was responsible for more than 250 students. Despite the pretense that real instruction was taking place, teachers like me were largely engaged in crowd management and little more. All of the meaningful parts of the job — connecting with students, providing one-on-one support, helping struggling class members to make social and intellectual breakthroughs, not to speak of creating a healthy classroom community — simply fell by the wayside. 

I couldn’t remember my students’ names, was unable to keep up with the usual grading and assessments we’re supposed to do, and was overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Worst of all, I was unable to provide the emotional support I normally try to give my students. I couldn’t listen because there wasn’t time.

On the drive to work, I was paralyzed by dread; on the drive home, cowed by feelings of failure. The experience of that year was demoralizing and humiliating. My love for my students, my passion for the subjects I teach, and ultimately my professional identity were all stripped from me. And what was lost for the students? Quality instruction and adult mentorship, as well as access to vital resources — not to mention a loss of faith in one of America’s supposedly bedrock institutions, the public school. 

And keep in mind that what’s happening in my school and in Oregon’s schools more generally is anything but unique. According to the American Federation of Teachers, divestment in education is occurring in every single state in the nation, with 25 states spending less on education than they did before the recession of 2008. The refusal of individual states to prioritize spending on education coupled with the Trump administration’s proposed $7 billion in cuts to the Department of Education are already beginning to make the situation in our nation’s public schools untenable — for both students and teachers.

Sitting in that conference room, listening to my capable and dedicated boss describe our potential return to a distorted reality I remembered well made me recoil. Bracing myself for the soul-crushing grind of trying to convince students to buy into a system that will almost by definition fail to address, no less meet, their needs — to get them to show up each day even though there aren’t enough seats, supplies, or teachers to do the job — is an exercise in futility. 

The truth of the matter is that a society that refuses to adequately invest in the education of its children is refusing to invest in the future. Think of it as nihilism on a grand scale.

Teachers as First Responders

Schools are loud, vital, chaotic places, unlike any other public space in America. Comprehensive public high schools reflect the socioeconomic, racial, religious, and cultural makeup of the population they serve. Each school has its own particular culture and ecosystem of rules, structures, core beliefs, and values. Each also has its own set of problems, specific to the population that walks through its doors each day. Coping with the complexity and magnitude of those problems makes the job of creating a thriving, equitable, and productive space for learning something akin to magical thinking.

The reflexive blame now regularly heaped on schools, teachers, and students in this country is a misrepresentation of reality. The real reason we are being left behind our global peers when it comes to student achievement has to do with so much more than the failure to perform well on standardized tests. Our kids are struggling not because we’ve forgotten how to teach them or they’ve forgotten how to learn, but because the adults who run this society have largely decided that their collective future is not a priority. In reality, the tattered and rapidly deteriorating infrastructure of our national system of social services leaves schools and teachers as front-line first responders in what I’d call a national crisis of the soul.

So it’s no surprise to me that teachers, even in the reddest of states, have been walking out of their classrooms and demanding change. Such walkouts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and West Virginia have reflected grievances more all-encompassing than the pleas for higher pay that have made the headlines. (And in so many states, they are still being paid less than a living wage.) Demands for just compensation are symbolic and easy for the public to grasp. The higher pay won through some of those walkouts represents an acknowledgement that teachers are being asked to do a seemingly impossible job in a society whose priorities are increasingly out of whack, amid the crumbling infrastructure of the public-school system itself.

The idea that the real world is somehow separate from the world inside our schools and that issues of inequality, poverty, mental health, addiction, and racism won’t impact the capacity of our students to thrive academically sets a dangerous precedent for measuring success. Assuming that the student living in a car, not a home, should be able to stay awake during a lecture, that the one returning from a week in a psychiatric ward should be able to instantly tackle a difficult math test, and that the one whose undocumented father was just picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers should have no problem concentrating as her teacher diagrams sentences in English is a grand delusion.

In fact, among the many demands of teachers and their unions during the strikes of the past year were calls for more financial support for comprehensive social services for students. In Los Angeles, teachers fought for legal support for students in danger of deportation. In North Carolina, teachers are planning a new round of strikes that will, among other things, demand Medicaid coverage expansion aimed at improving student health. In Chicago, teachers included a call for affordable housing in their negotiations and so drew attention to the importance of supporting students both in and out of the classroom.

If schools are expected to pick up the slack for the gaping holes in our social safety net, it follows that they should be designed and funded with that purpose in mind.  If teachers are supposed not only to teach but to act as counselors, therapists, and social workers, they should be paid salaries that reflect such weighty demands and should have access to resources that support such work.

Why Prioritizing School Funding Matters

There is a large disconnect between the lip service paid to supporting public schools and teachers and a visible reticence to adequately fund them. Ask almost anyone — save Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — if they support teachers and schools and the answer is probably “yes.” Bring up the question of how to actually provide adequate financial support for education, however, and you’ll quickly find yourself mired in arguments about wasteful school spending, pension funds that drain resources, sub-par teachers, and bureaucratic bloat, as well as claims that you can’t just continue to throw money at a problem, that money is not the solution.

I’d argue that money certainly is part of the solution. In a capitalist society, money represents value and power. In America, when you put money into something, you give it meaning. Students are more than capable of grasping that when school funding is being cut, it’s because we as a society have decided that investing in public education doesn’t carry enough value or meaning.

The prioritization of spending on the military, as well as the emphasis of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on a staggering tax cut for the rich, corporate tax evasion, and the dismantling of what’s left of the social safety net couldn’t send a louder message about how much of a priority the wellbeing of the majority of this nation’s kids actually is. The 2019 federal budget invested $716 billion in national security, $686 billion of which has been earmarked for the Department of Defense (with even more staggering figures expected next year). Compare that to the $59.9 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education and the expected future cuts to its budget. Point made, no?

However, since federal school contributions add up to only a small percentage of local and state education budgets, all blame can’t go there. In Oregon, for instance, restrictions placed on property taxes in the 1990s artificially limited such revenue, forcing the state to start relying heavily on income taxes to keep schools afloat. Corporations are an important source of income for states. Yet, though corporate profits in the U.S. rose by $69.3 billion to an all-time high of more than two trillion dollars in the third quarter of 2018, over the last 40 years the states’ share of income-tax revenue has fallen to half what it was in the 1970s.

Take Nike, whose worldwide headquarters are located only a few miles from the high school where I teach. It stands as a shining example of a corporation that has profited handsomely from sheltering income abroad while evading local tax responsibilities. Nike has a special relationship with the state of Oregon, which taxes only the company’s local profits, not those earned elsewhere. Adding insult to injury, according to The Oregonian, by the end of 2017, Nike had put $12.2 billion of its earnings into offshore tax shelters. Had that money been repatriated, the company could have owed up to $4.1 billion in U.S. taxes, which means it has a modest hand in the monetary shortfalls that leave schools like mine in desperate straits.

In reality, Oregon’s economy is thriving and yet how little it all matters, since here we are again on the precipice of another crisis.

In 1999, the state government formed a committee made up of educators, legislators, business leaders, and parents to create a reliable budgetary tool that would correlate school funding needs with student performance. This “Quality Education Model” set out a standard for what a “quality” education would look like for every student in Oregon. In the 20 years since then, the state legislature has reliably failed to meet the funding goals set out by that model. This year, it calls for $10.7 billion in education spending, while the state legislature’s joint ways and means committee recently released a budget that included spending of just $8.87 billion on the school system. Such annual shortages of funds have, over time, helped create the present gaping hole in our public education system. And each year that hole grows larger.

Restoring Faith in Our Nation’s Institutions

Public schools represent one of the bedrock institutions of American democracy. Yet as a society we’ve stood aside as the very institutions that actually made America great were gutted and undermined by short-term thinking, corporate greed, and unconscionable disrespect for our collective future.

The truth is that there is money for education, for schools, for teachers, and for students. We just don’t choose to prioritize education spending and so send a loud-and-clear message to students that education doesn’t truly matter. And when you essentially defund education for more than 40 years, you leave kids with ever less faith in American institutions, which is a genuine tragedy.

On May 8th, educators across the state of Oregon are planning to walk out of schools.  The action, a precursor to a strike, is a direct response to the inadequate funding in the upcoming state budget and a referendum on the continuing divestment in public education. Teachers like me will be stepping out of our classrooms not because we don’t want to teach, but because we do.

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  1. Altandmain

    This is the ultimate result of neoliberalism.

    The neoliberals will point to this failure to apply another Shock Doctrine to try to privatize the education system and to turn it over to rent seeking capitalists.

    A fundamental issue is that the neoliberals do not want education to succeed. They do not want public services to be a success story. Nor do many conservatives. Success means that their ideology is rightfully discredited. That leaves less room for the rent seekers on the top of the kleptocracy.

    The article notes other injustices – tax cuts for the rich, an excess of military spending, and the the offshoring of taxes by corporations. This has led to the appalling condition of schools due to lack of available resources allocated to schools. We do not have a budget crisis. We have a “the rich, the people who benefited the most from the past investments of society are the least willing to contribute to the future of the society” type of crisis.

    This short term focus of neoliberalism is going to bite us all in the back at some point.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      Look on the bright side. The struggling public schools do provide solid evidence that Big Government Doesn’t Work.
      /snark off..

    2. thoughtful person

      Yes, exactly. Every government institution is under siege. Cut revenue while attempting to privatize. By crapifying the said institution, force those who can to leave (or use an alternative private service). Create a narrative of governmental failure justifying the ongoing privitization. Rake in huge profits on government contracts…do this globally.

  2. albrt

    If the kids do not have faith in American institutions, that is a good sign.

    It probably won’t help most of them avoid the mass die off due to climate change, but maybe a few will bail out at the right time and find their way to one of the temporary, non-urban coastal refuges where a couple hundred thousand humans might survive, moving a few feet higher every year as the seas continue to rise for the next thousand years or so.

  3. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Not a bug, a feature.

    The last thing in the world the oligarchs want are educated serfs capable of thinking for themselves.

  4. divadab

    Current educational research shows the most educational bang for your buck is not in reducing class sizes – improvements in student performance are marginal – but rather in streaming: take the top 10% and the bottom 10% of students and stream them in separate classes to the middle 80% and EVERYBODY does better.

    This is not a popular strategy currently but it works. Reducing funding for education is bad but there are solid mitigations and streaming is one such.

    1. mle detroit

      Streaming as you propose? Wouldn’t that require three teachers, not one? We (for some definition of we) can’t afford it!
      Besides, we’ve already got streaming outside of school: the top ten percent, the “sliding down the razor blade of life” middle, the deserve-what-they-get bottom.

    2. Alfred

      It’s still popular among some groups. To a large degree, streaming is the basic concept underlying charter schools. The idea itself has a solid underpinning in the educational goal of assuring that each child meet his/her own learning potential, rather than striving to meet some arbitrary goal established by standardized tests. But levelers don’t like the elitism inherent in the streaming strategy, especially as in practice it produces in many schools demographic results that appear racist, or in others segregation by social class. The strategy has also been undermined by research revealing that differences in ‘learning styles’ do not necessarily reproduce differences in ‘learning ability’ or educational potential. The strategy prevailed in the school system where I was raised, and I have no doubt that I benefited from it. I am less sure that all pupils benefited from it equally, though. There seems to have been a tendency to assign the less skillful teachers to the middle group, who were thereby disadvantaged in comparison to the two outlying groups. Also, it was obviously easy for some kids from well-to-do families to get placed in the ‘top’ group, for reasons of pure prestige, when they objectively belonged in the middle group, or might even have been best served in the ‘bottom’ group. (Back in the sixties we called them the ‘accelerated’, ‘average’, and ‘slow’ groups; and I think the cut-off percentiles were more likely to have been 20 and 80 than 10 and 90. The ‘accelerated group’ corresponded, apparently, to what my parents’ generation perceived during the 1940s to be the ‘college prep’ group in their schools, which also had a ‘vocational’ group at the opposite end of the achievement scale.)

    3. tongorad

      Current educational research shows the most educational bang for your buck is not in reducing class sizes

      Federal fiat spending would solve the dilemma of crowded classes (as well as a whole lot of other things). And crowded classrooms are better than reduced class sizes? I wonder who funded this research?
      As a front-line teacher in public schools, I call hogwash. Crowded classes means more workload, even if you stream or not. Teacher workload is a big problem:
      Teachers suffer more stress than other workers, study finds
      The above article refers to the UK, but IME teachers here in the states are just as overwhelmed.

      We have the resources to expand, reform, evlove, etc the education system – having to make “more bang for your buck” decisions based on faux scarcity is a neoliberal conceit.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I can see this might be true for certain class size ranges, like 15 students v. 20. But I have to think there is a class size above which it becomes hard to teach effectively.

        1. Plissken

          I taught English at a Japanese public school. Class sizes were 35-40 kids. It wasn’t a problem because the country was culturally homogenous, the students were housed (i.e. not homeless), fed, and showed up with a generally good attitude toward learning.

          With all our social issues (e.g. homelessness) and immigration (e.g. non-English speaking 3rd graders showing up in class), large class sizes don’t work.

          As a side note though, the education system’s (i.e. Liberal’s) insistence on throwing the dumbest and smartest students in the same class is a huge hindrance for learning. Being in the same class as Albert Einstein won’t make me a better physicist.

          1. Anon

            Being in the same classroom with Einstein, likely would have been futile for everyone. He had outclassed an adult personal tutor in mathematics at about the age of eight. Einstein was both an original thinker and a Genius. Rare individual, indeed. (He was an autodidact–self-taught in several disciplines.)

            While being challenged/informed by your peers is essential to accelerating learning, only well-funded teachers and schools will provide that opportunity.

            It should not be forgotten that teaching is truly an informed and fluid exercise. Students “get it” at different times and in different ways. Public schools are about making ALL of society better.

  5. moishe pupik

    it is worth noting that beaverton is a wealthy portland suburb with several high schools rated among the best schools in the state. the situation in less affluent towns is much worse. there is a reason why oregon’s high school graduation rate is among the worst in the nation.

  6. crittermom

    Excellent article.
    Heartbreaking and horrifying, as well.

    Of course I was aware of the deterioration of our public school system and why, but this teacher had the ability to put into words the stark reality in a very readable, comparative, heartfelt manner that should p*ss off anyone who reads it.

    I’ve always loved children and harbored a desire to become a teacher, that I never pursued.
    (If I had, the current state of our system would have destroyed me emotionally, I fear).

    I wish them all the best results on May 8th.
    The education of children is SO important!

  7. anon y'mouse

    sounds just like my own school experience in 90s bay area urban school district.

    odd that this is going on in beaverton. they are headquarters for nike and intel, and are considered one of the more “well off” suburbs of portland. you want to see real devastation, go to the east side of town. beaverton is an area of solid, middle class and better mostly homeowners (although there are some apartment complexes which raise rents significantly on tenants under the “whaddya gonna do” racket that Portland metro is engaged in around there), thus taxpayers.

    planned takedowns, all.

    1. Cal2

      Hardly mentioned:

      “Public school districts across the United States are suffering under a massive unfunded mandate imposed by the federal government: the requirement to educate millions of illegal aliens, the school age children of illegal aliens, refugees and legal immigrant students. FAIR estimates that it currently costs public schools $59.8 billion to serve this burgeoning population. The struggle to fund programs for students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), sometimes called English Language Learners (ELL), represents a major drain on school budgets. Yet due to political correctness, it is taboo to raise the issue even though scarce resources are redirected away from American citizens to support programs like English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and English as a Second Language (ESL)”

      1. anon y'mouse

        you don’t have to tell me. i lived in the afore-mentioned urban public school district. public services ARE overtaxed by mass immigration, and citizens are harmed (sadly, the citizens most harmed were poor and black who needed extra help in 3Rs department). regardless of the “american dreamers” shpiel we keep selling in order to allow the labor market’s lower levels to be undercut constantly.

  8. Eugene Morley

    An educated mind, is a dangerous mind. Think about it. It’s the old & their progeny that want to keep the status quo, out of the belief that they are deserving, while everybody else are not. That’s the case today in the U.S.A. As long as the descent pays dividends, they will collect rent from others, as one looks around the world today, the question to be asked: “are you better off today, then you were yesterday”, depends if you’re part of the corruption or those left behind.

  9. Kris Alman

    I live in the Beaverton School District and one thing this amazing Southridge High School teacher doesn’t mention is how technology is flipping teachers out of the classroom.

    In 2015 (when that article was written), Julia Brim-Edwards led the Nike Innovation Fund (which she co-founded.) She became a member of the now defunct Oregon Education Investment Board, at a time when then-Governor Kitzhaber (a Dem who resigned early in his fourth term to give the position to then Secretary of State and current Governor Kate Brown) eliminated the elected position of School Superintendent. Can you imagine? Corporate education reforms in blue state Oregon! Brim-Edwards is now on the Portland Public School Board.

    The Nike Innovation Fund had coached “two critical leadership projects” in the Beaverton School District and their website boasted stories like “Confession of a cheating teacher” and “Is the classroom obsolete”? (Needless to say, you won’t find those entries in the internet anymore!) An excerpt from the latter:

    Each student “constructs” knowledge based on his or her own past experiences. Because of this, the research demands a personalized education model to maximize individual student achievement. Classrooms, on the other hand, are based on the erroneous assumption that efficient delivery of content is the same as effective learning.

    In his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama said ““We need to out-innovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world.”

    Can we do that in today’s classroom?

    The Beaverton School District’s thrust turned toward technology and standardized testing. I know. I was in leadership as a parent volunteer on their Language Arts/Literacy curriculum adoption in the mid aughts.

    The Beaverton School District (where Nike and Intel have a strong foothold) eliminated librarians during a massive layoff in 2011-12. Subsequently in 2014, the Beaverton School District passed $680 million bond measure that would spend $7 million a year on technology for 8 years. That’s equivalent to at least 70 librarians a year.

    “Personalized” algorithmic education keeps Silicon Valley happy.

    1. Kris Alman

      Take Nike, whose worldwide headquarters are located only a few miles from the high school where I teach. It stands as a shining example of a corporation that has profited handsomely from sheltering income abroad while evading local tax responsibilities. Nike has a special relationship with the state of Oregon, which taxes only the company’s local profits, not those earned elsewhere. Adding insult to injury, according to The Oregonian, by the end of 2017, Nike had put $12.2 billion of its earnings into offshore tax shelters. Had that money been repatriated, the company could have owed up to $4.1 billion in U.S. taxes, which means it has a modest hand in the monetary shortfalls that leave schools like mine in desperate straits.

      More examples of Nike’s tax evasion and dominance in Oregon and the Beaverton School District.

      In 2005, Salem lawmakers granted Nike headquarters freedom from “forced annexation” by the City of Beaverton for 35 years. This led to then Mayor Rob Drake losing his position to be replaced by a Nike puppet. (Subsequently, we also started seeing more and more of Phil Knight’s money funding campaigns. Knight contributed $2.5 M toward Republican Knute Buehler’s unsuccessful campaign against Governor Kate Brown in 2018!)

      In a special session December 2012, Nike strong-armed Governor Kitzhaber and the legislature to sign onto a “tax certainty” bill. 30 years of a guaranteed income tax based on the single-sales methodology (rather than a combination of sales, payroll and property) is a huge tax break for Nike since their income taxes will continue to be based solely on sales within Oregon.

      Kitzhaber did this because Nike’s said they wanted to invest $150 million expansion and create 500 jobs. But Nike neither specified job quality nor minimum duration of these jobs. And while the company claims an average wage $100,000 a year, executives’ wages (such as CEO Mark Parker’s then $10.83 million income) falsely skewed the true median wage upward.

      Following that success, in the spring of 2013, Washington County Commissioners were asked to extend Beaverton’s enterprise zone to extend to unincorporated Washington County, where Nike wanted to expand.

      This meant the “near-Beaverton” Nike headquarters $150 million expansion (new buildings and machinery) would not be taxed for up to 5 years. It meant the local community would not collect ~$2 million per year; and the Beaverton School District specifically wouldn’t collect $750,000.

      When I saw this on the Washington County Commissioner’s agenda, I emailed Commissioner Malinowski that this was wrong. He opened the item up for discussion as it was going to be rubber stamped. I pointed out that it was corporate welfare for them and the City of Beaverton to extend this tax break to Nike–which had done the Amazon trick of wooing nearby communities to lure them with better incentives. As if! Their holy land has plenty of space for building and a berm and guarded entrance that keeps the riffraff out. Remember, Nike spurns Beaverton’s annexation, with the state legislature’s blessing!

      When the Beaverton School District learned that I asked that this be disapproved, they came to Nike’s rescue to support this tax break in testimony that day.

      It was amusing to see the Commissioners to discuss whether the tax break was corporate welfare. All commissioners voted to approve extension of the enterprise zone into Nike’s headquarters. Nike innovated a tax shelter within a tax shelter. As we know, they Just Do It!

      Malinoski, the most liberal Washington County Commissioner, was ousted in 2018 and replaced by a more corporate friendly commissioner.

      1. Off The Street

        Beavertonians, if that is what locals call them, should seek a new balance in their affairs.

  10. rd

    As somebody who has a spouse teaching in an inner city school, my observation is that there is both a financial problem and an management problem.

    The financial problem is pretty simple. Most school funding is from local taxes within the school district. Poor districts have less of a tax base. There is some leveling money form the state and the feds but an inner city school has nowhere near the resources of a wealthy suburban district, despite having many more student challnges, ranging from non-English speakers, poverty, single or no parent families, transient students, etc.

    The management problem is interesting as there appears to be no shortage of administrators. But insane things happen, like a steady change in language arts and math programs. It seems that every couple of years there is a new program that has to be instituted for whatever reason. It is announced with great fanfare and then it takes months for the materials to dribble into the classroom instead of everything being in place on the first day of school.

    The materials often show up as pdfs and then there are no working printers or copiers or they don’t have paper. So the teacher has to figure out how to this material distributed to the students . The central printing office usually takes three weeks or more to send printing requests back to the teachers.

    The in thing in education is testing. It is common though for the baseline tests not to be ready until near Thanksgiving while the tests the teachers will be rated on are given well before the end of the school year. So the administraiton is constantly shocked that testing doesn’t show big changes when the baseline is given 2 months into the school year (the kids have already been taught some of the material) and then they are retested in March or April with two months of school left. so many of the tests are effectively only measuring the change that a teacher can produce in 4-5 months instead of the full school year.

    Discipline is a HUGE issue. Teachers get suspended if a child is touched. So kids will rampage and the teachers step out of the way and simply call security who then sometimes have to call the police. There was an incident recently when a special ed student simply got off a bus in the middle of a busy street and nobody could go get the student out of the street. Fortunately nobody got hurt. In the elementary/middle school, there is usually at least one teacher injured by a student every year. That student is usually returned to the classroom in short order.

  11. Raulb

    Its extremely strange that a country with such ‘strong’ beliefs in meritocracy continues to have education quality dependent on the income level of neighborhoods.

    This far from meritocracy seems designed explicitly perpetuate inequality. Its like a sly feudal king not really interested in educating his population saying educational institutions around the kingdom will be build based on wealth when he knows fully well its concentrated in his specific area. And after generations of advantage and access to the best quality for the nobility to shift focus to ‘merit’.

    The level of dissonance required to pull this off is phenomenal and reflects the sheer rot and denial at the heart of these issues. The preoccupation and fuss with ‘merit’ instead of access and quality for all itself is a dead giveaway of something seriously problematic.

  12. sierra7

    Our government is owned by big money.
    If anyone thinks there will be “progressive” changes they are completely nuts!
    The game is survival of the fittest.
    Kill them all and let God sort them out!
    The public schools do not require parents to mandatory participation in say, schoolyard monitoring; help in the classrooms with the children; serving lunches to the students…etc.
    Without real participation in our children’s educational processes we relinquish our control and responsibilities and want to rely on “others” to educate our youngsters.
    Either we change this decrepit, racist loosing system or like our business side we will criminalize the system itself. And, we will lose our children in the process.
    In the richest country (money) in the world we are a disgrace in our education or our young.

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