Education is necessary for this country to compete in a global economy. It has been the backbone of our innovations and achievements. Without educating our children, we would become a country of morons. Worse, we would go back to the days when companies “owned” your soul. Most Americans don’t remember the days when companies owned you. Corporations like coal mines owned the mine, the town, and everything in it including the people.
If you worked in a coal mine, you were forced to “rent’ your house from the coal company. You were forced to get your food and clothing and furniture from the company owned store. You were even charged for the tools you used on the job. As a result of this as well as high costs for everything, you were basically owned by the coal company. If you lost your job you were screwed.
Unions help bust these monopolies. But, education was another important factor in breaking from company owned lives. By getting an education, you had the opportunity to break-away from the company and branch out on your own. This meant that fewer children from miners were heading down into the mine when they grew up. More and more simply left for better opportunities.
This worked very well for America, in the 20th century, especially after World War Two. Between better education and the unions, the middle-class surged. Even factory workers with High School educations were better off than their fathers. Things were looking up and America’s economy grew rapidly.
In the 1970s, things started to change. Unions came under fierce attack. States started passing “right to work” laws that basically took collective bargaining away from workers and resulted in lower pay. The worst part was that education was also under attack. Teachers were being vilified and treated as the enemy. They found their pay stagnating and they were blamed if students didn’t do well on the standardized tests.
Funding for public education plummeted in certain areas of the country. Especially in poor areas both urban and rural. Education fell drastically. Once having the highest rating for education in the world, we have fallen to about 25th in the world.
The problem is that the current Republican Party seems determined to lower that standing even more. Republicans are introducing legislation in several states that will halt any real education of our children. They aren’t even trying to make an argument for these changes either. They simply want to stop educating our children altogether.
1) They have been pushing to get rid of Common Core Standards. The irony is that they claim that Common Core is too challenging and causes too much stress. I thought education was supposed to be challenging. However, their real argument is that the Federal Government is pushing this on local communities. That is what they don’t like. By making sure that every child receives basically the same education, we will help ensure that these children can attain their dreams. One group won’t lag behind others because they didn’t receive the best education possible.
As I wrote once before, I believe that in order to compete in a global economy, we cannot use “local control” when it comes to educating our children. We need to make sure that all children receive the skills needed to compete in the real world. That includes math, reading, science and history. The Republicans want to “dictate” what the children in their states learn, the future be damned.
2) Most Republican controlled states have cut education funding dramatically. Some states have cut it more than $1 Billion. Places like Mississippi, which is the lowest funded public school in the country, wants to cut even more. They don’t care if their children learn anything. One of their state Representatives Gene Alday even compared education to welfare. Especially when it comes to teaching black children. He seems to think that educating black children is a waste of money.
That leads to defunding public education in general. Meaning that he is very happy with his state being at the bottom of the education ladder. No one in Mississippi seems to think that is the biggest reason the state ranks dead last in economics for its people. Mississippi continuously rates as the poorest state in the union. I will venture that their poor education system is the cause of this continued rating.
3) There is a major push by Republicans to not teach AP History. In Oklahoma, a committee voted along party lines 11-4 to outlaw the use of the AP History curriculum. The reason isn’t because there is anything really wrong with the curriculum, but rather because it actually teaches students our faults as well as our achievements.
The bill’s sponsor, state representative Dan Fisher, argued that the schools should be teaching “American exceptionalism,” and avoiding teaching parts of American history that are less than flattering. Even the Republican National Committee endorses the idea that AP history courses should teach less strife and present a more rah-rah view of American history.
Earlier in the school year, students in Colorado walked out of classes when that state tried to limit the AP History course. To some, it may seem like a good idea that we teach only the rah-rah parts of history. But, by doing so, we are failing our children. One only need to look back to 1930s Germany to see what happens when governments rewrite history to achieve political agendas.
To paraphrase the book 1984, “To control the future you need to control the past. You control the past by controlling the present.” Rewriting history in order to make us look good and present the idea that America can do no wrong, is very dangerous for the future. Without remembering our weaknesses, we will definitely relive them.
4) Cutting education funding is not limited to just elementary and high school Many states, like Wisconsin, are cutting funding to state universities as well. This is resulting in higher tuition costs. It also means that fewer students will be able to afford college.
As it is, the average college graduate leaves college with massive student loan debt. By cutting funding to state universities, that debt will rise even more. Plus, it will make a lot of people who wish to attend college turn away because they cannot afford the costs.
Walker and his staff haven’t really taken many pains to hide that this is rooted in a deeper hostility to the very idea of knowledge itself. “A harbinger of what Walker might face came in an immediate uproar on social media this month after his staff proposed changing the university’s ethereal focus on the pursuit of truth, known as the ‘Wisconsin Idea,’ to a grittier focus on ‘workforce needs.”
Even though there may be some conservative lip smacking about “saving money” Walker backed off recasting higher education as nothing more than job training after his critics pointed out he is a college dropout, but the fact that this wording change was proposed at all shows that the hostility to education is ideological and has little to nothing to do with saving money.
5) Kansas has taken the spotlight again. Kansas has become a cesspool of stupid ideas, especially since Brownback took office as Governor. This state’s legislature wants everyone to know that you should wait for marriage before having sex. But, that isn’t enough for them. They want that taught in sex education classes. They don’t want anything else being taught as “sex education.” There’s growing support for having teachers fear jail time should they ever hint, during sex education, that sex is a thing people do for pleasure.
Citing a teacher who had used a poster in class that suggested that sex is sometimes used to show affection, Republicans are pushing a bill that would make it a crime for teachers to dare to acknowledge such a thing again. You read that correctly. They want to be able to put in jail any teacher who suggests that sex is sometimes used to show affection.
There are other examples as well. Don’t forget about the conservative push to ban evolution being taught in science classes and replacing it with creationism. The list goes a whole lot deeper.
The Republican Party has been fighting against education for generations. This is really nothing new. Education funding is always one of the first things to be cut in states under their rule. Teachers are vilified and as you can see in Kansas, criminalized. Why is education under so much attack by Republicans?
You may or may not agree with this, but I believe that the Republican Party wants Americans to be as stupid as possible! They don’t want us to think for ourselves. They don’t want us to be able to question their policies. Basically, they want to return us to the world of company towns again.
When the populace is uneducated, you can get them to believe your crazy ideas much easier. When you rewrite history, you can make them believe whatever you want. These are very dangerous philosophies. We owe a better future to our children.