Education in America

Since GOP’s record wins in 2010, education has been on the chopping blocks not only at the state but also the federal level by turning our public education system into voucher programs or charter schools and privatizing the system and cutting Pell Grants and higher education funding putting college out of reach of a higher number of low and moderate income households. 

There is a great article, The Destruction of American Education And What We Must Do About It, by Dr. Norman D. Livergood that makes very valuable points on our current educational system and the trajectory it is taking.  Below are excerpts from that article that I feel will resonate with the public. 

From a study in 2003: 

Some thirty million adults in the U.S. do not have the skills to perform even the most basic tasks such as adding numbers on a bank slip, identifying a place on a map, or reading directions for taking a medication. Eleven million Americans are totally illiterate in English.

Only twenty-nine percent of Americans have basic reading and computing skills. One out of every twenty Americans lacks the ability to understand what is going on in the world or to develop an informed opinion for voting.

The voucher system that is touted by Republicans: 

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the Supreme Court in a 1998 ruling allowed their voucher system to stand, some 6,000 students make use of the vouchers, worth about $5,000 apiece. This results in $30 million being funneled from the budget of the Milwaukee school district into the coffers of the Catholic Church and other private schools. With this new ruling, the program can now be fully utilized, so that 15,000 students can leave the system, cutting the funding of the public schools by $75 million.

Republican supporters of the voucher hide the fact from the public that the crisis in the schools is largely the product of decades of federal, state and local spending cuts, tax breaks to big business and attacks on teachers’ and other school employees’ wages and working conditions.

The newly-sanctioned voucher system will intensify class and social distinctions. The top schools will be reserved for the wealthiest layers of society who can pay to send their children to elite private schools and academies. Next below on the totem pole will be the private and for-profit schools for middle-class and working class children, whose parents will have to work longer hours and go further into debt to scrape together thousands of dollars to pay tuition costs.

At the very bottom will be the public schools, left for the poorest and most disadvantaged working class students. Unable to do little to help working class youth develop learning skills, the role of these schools will be little more than training lower-class students for low-paying jobs.

The state of Americans and education: 

Americans are rapidly losing a sense of the traditional American values. Anti-intellectual, racist or right-wing multiculturalism has replaced education, bought-and-paid-for-politics has replaced democracy, funneling billions to the fat-cats has replaced statesmanship, and attacks on constitutional liberties has replaced political and judicial oversight.

If you examine graduate courses on Global Economy, for example, you’ll not find a single mention of the terrible human costs: rising unemployment in the home economies, slave wages in the third world countries where manufacturing is relocated, runaway immigration, and a constant degradation of the environment.

Freire worked to help third-world people overcome illiteracy. Today, his insights can be applied to two different kinds of illiterate people:

  • Those who cannot grasp the sense of letters or symbols. 
  • Those who can “read” (in the grammar school sense) but who cannot read: understand the meaning of the words they see.

There are those today, for example, who “read” about such things as worker layoffs and American corporations relocating their manufacturing plants in China or Indonesia, but who do not understand the meaning of what they “read.”

Another kind of modern-day “illiteracy” occurs as people “read” or “hear” the “news” in newspapers or on TV, and allow themselves to be taken in by the propaganda that such “news” involves.

The article in its entirety:


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