Parenting & Families

Equal Education in America

Let’s talk about children – our children – yours and mine. Who is this population that has so captured our political stage, and what do they mean to us? How much are they worth, and what should it cost us to educate them? How do we refer to them? Listen to the language that we use. We call them our “human capital”, or our “investment in the future.” These children are Americans, and as such, are entitled to an equal education. So how then do we assure that our American children get an American education? Before we can address the solution, let’s first have a look at the problem.

Since the Supreme Court decision of “Rodrigus vs. San Antonio”, we now know that equal education is not guaranteed by the Federal Government. There is no mention of education in the Constitution. That being said, we look to “The Declaration of Independence” where all men are endowed equal by their creator, and are entitled to their inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is here that we may peek into the hearts and minds of the founding fathers and see the essence of their longing for our futures. For here lies the rub. Simply stated, our schools are not equal. We pay for our schools through property taxes, and therefore, if you live in a poor neighborhood with low property taxes, your school will reflect that poverty. Hence your school district will have less equipment, books, and teacher than that of a richer school district. So what can we do about it? Jonathan Kozol, the Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar whose award winning books including the best selling Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace, and Ordinary Resurrection, to name a few, has spent his adult life and work investigation these injustices and advocating equal education for all American children. It is his opinion that we can do this. We Americans can give our children, regardless of where they live, or the color of their skin, an equal education under the law. Yes – he is suggesting an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Right now, education has been left to the sovereignty of the states – and, it has not been a good thing. We have a problem, a crisis, if you will, in the way we educate our children. We have tried everything, and we have received an “F.” The factory approach looked good for a while – then the German and Japanese. Now we have applied a business model. Hence words such as production, investment, and capital are used when speaking of children. And, everyone is cheating to the markers of competition and success – the test. The outcome has become more important than the process – nevermind, the love of learning. Let us return to the American model – for that is our identity. That is who we are. Once our students enter the University system, which is the American in form, we outperform our neighbors. That is the way back to our future. There are considerably more American Nobel Prize winners, for example, than from the countries that we imitate. Our education must reflect the American spirit. We are a melting pot – a culture of rugged individuals, and that is our strength and our nobility.