Why the “Socialists” are winning: Education

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So why are the socialist winning?  I use the term socialists loose enough to encompass all the vaguely left of center Democracies in Europe and around the world.  In truth there aren’t nearly as many honest-to-god socialists as conservatives would like to think, especially since they’ve made “socialism”, however it’s defined, their primary boogeyman over the last 50 years.  So when it comes to Education and other key metrics of Civilization why do left leaning philosophies tend to do so much better than the exceptional American ones?  Well, the short answer is that they’ve been caring more and longer and more cohesively than Americans have.

There are two ways to look at American education.  From the top down everything looks incredible.  We’ve got wonderful fantastic (albeit expensive and sometimes useless) colleges and universities.  Millions of students every year graduate with an amazing education.  If you look at the TOP, American education is world class.   Thanks in large part to 19th century industrialists, some anti-Communist panic caused by sputnik, and the ability of Universities to use large endowments to make obscene amounts of money.  The Federal government also funds hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of research all across the country which also makes a University education utterly fantastic.  Is the University system in desperate need of reform? absolutely but that’s a topic for another post.

The other way to look at American education is from the bottom up.  What happens when a child enters an American school for the very first time?  How do they grow and mature for the next 12-16 years?  When you measure your average  child how do we stack up? Poorly.  On reason is if don’t have the resources to live in a posh neighborhood… well then, It sucks to be you. Moreover, neighborhoods with strong cultural and ethnic minorities have suffered from generations of malicious neglect.  Nations in Europe and increasingly Asia aren’t less poor, or less racist, or better parents, but they’ve been working on building a national paradigm for these students and we’ve only just started.

And We really have only just started to notice.  How come our schools are worse now than the idyllic of Leave it to Beaver?  They’re not.  They’re better.  A lot better.  The art of teaching hasn’t declined it’s been in a constant state of revolution and improvement for 50 years.  The difference is that we’re just now starting to care about students who don’t look or act like the Cleaver family.  A student has behavioral difficulties in school?  no problem.  They can just leave to make it on their own in the world.  In the ’50s that wasn’t hard to do.  Now it’s impossible with long term expensive social ramifications.  Your school didn’t have the resources to teach poor kids or kids of color?  no problem.  Let them work in the fields.  An option that was never really viable.  Your child didn’t have the incredible force of will to maintain the austere and brutal discipline and long pointless hours of rote memorization that was classic old school methodology?  They didn’t have to endure that to succeed in the world.  Did your child have a radically different way of interacting with the world physically and mentally?  Hell, forget school.  We’ll just lock them up in a nightmarish prison (<– sadly I’m being very literal here).   The point is they were uncounted, untested, and ignored on a national and social level.  Now we’re beginning to notice.

There are problems aplenty.  And solutions to sift through.  But we are through demanding things.  Let us no longer demand action or redress.  No more demanding time, attention, and money.  I’m tired of demanding change.  Instead I choose to offer.  I want to offer my time and expertise.  I want to offer my money through taxes or levies.  I want to offer my encouragement not only to the teachers in my community now, but future teachers.  I want to offer collaboration between members of community and teachers when it comes to art, science, math, language arts, literature and more.  I offer my forgiveness for every imagined slight and annoyance that I not only feel for you but your whiny ill mannered children.  I suspect I’ll have to offer that one a lot.  You may have to forgive some arrogance and umbridge on my part.  I want to offer a new dialogue and a path out of relentless mediocrity and stagnation.  And I want to offer you the opportunity to join me in a more positive upward focused perspective