MaMa-Feminista

Discourse on the intersections of politics, feminism, and motherhood.

Tuesday, August 1

America's Perspective on Education

I have to say Oprah has hit the nail on the head. I don't consider myself an avid Oprah watcher but since the object permanence kicked in the days have been very difficult. Yesterday afternoon, the Oprah show tackled the long silent issue of American schools. American schools are clearly in crisis. Perhaps not all American schools but the vast majority of students that graduate if they graduate at all are not prepared for college nor the professional environment. State averages are held up by schools located in upper-middle class areas veiling those schools that are ridiculously in need.

Here in South Carolina, public education is run like a corporation. All schools in the state receive the same amount of money from the federal government. The state funds schools based on property tax. If you can afford to purchase or rent in a upper-middle class area then your school district will most likely be well off in the financial department as well as staffed with decent teachers. If you live out in some of the agricultural communities or in lower income areas then your district has schools with no text books, over populated class rooms, a high crime rate, low test scores, high drop out rates, out of date technology in the class room, no computer education, you get the picture.

I was under the impression that education should be the equalizer. Investing in education and not just a single notion of education but many diverse ways in which education is offered will cement our economy, reduce crime rates and prison populations, create more industry, development, and better environments for future generations. It seems that American politicans are more concerned with controlling natural resources than educating it's youth. After all who benefits from keeping people uneducated? Education is power.

The reason Oprah was so important is that the show brought to light the work Bill and Melinda Gates, former basketball star and education advocate Kevin Johnson, and others who are creating new and experimental schools that are working. The most compelling story came from a woman who oversees the only highschool within a state prison in San Francisco. She noted that the city had identified five "feeder" schools that account for 75% of the inmates at her prison. A second startling statistic; 80% of prison inmates in America are highschool dropouts and 600,000 inmates get released each year. The cycle is quite clear.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Kevin Johnson have started Stand Up, an organization working to change the perspective America has regarding education. Stand Up is a national campaign that recognizes the struggles, road blocks, and disparities that fester in America's educational system and is currently working to change the overall environment by empowering parents, educators, and students; the perspective being, power to change lives in the hands of the public. Their mentality in regards the the American educational perspective is that we as parents, students and educators need to work together and demand better quality and higher standards from public policy makers.

Links:
www.schoolmatters.com

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