Is our education system fair? Is it even consistent? Why are some communities so resistant and frustrated with public education? Why do they feel that it's a waste to use taxpayer money for public education. Right about now, I think it's time for my favorite Paulo Freire quote:
Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world (1970).
Is the education system here in the US about freedom, or about control? Or, is it about apathy? Paul Krugman recently wrote a piece on his blog called "The Uneducated American." Here is a small excerpt:
If you had to explain America’s economic success with one word, that word would be “education.” In the 19th century, America led the way in universal basic education. Then, as other nations followed suit, the “high school revolution” of the early 20th century took us to a whole new level. And in the years after World War II, America established a commanding position in higher education.
But that was then. The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.
For me, this only brings up more questions. What is the role of education here in the US? And what are the realities of our education system? What purpose does it really serve? This conversation is not something that should simply be brushed off. I think that paying attention to the complaints about public education (from various social and political positions) is important here. What is it about our public education system that is creating so much tension for so many groups of people? And, on the other hand, why are some groups of people fairly content with certain ideals and realities about public education?