Americans, those in the United States, have an obligation indebted to them by their tax supported government that it must provide adequate protection to citizens through infrastructure and recognition of human rights for the support that the citizens provide the government in taxes and participation. One of those human rights is the right to a public education. In 1910 about 72% of children were recorded attending school either public, private or home school. Between 1910 and 1940 the high school movement drove a rapid increase in public high school enrollment and graduations. By 1930, 100% of children were attending school, excluding children with disabilities or medical concerns that precluded involvement in the general program. Special Education services first emerged in 1975 with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Leading up to 1938 there was a movement to bring education to six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school, and four years of high school. There was a long road to get to where America resides today but in 1965 Lyndon Johnson, a former school teacher, signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (‘ESEA’) that he brought forth in his War on Poverty. Taxes support K-12 programs for those who choose to participate but a national curriculum is forbidden. Citizens are obligated to send their kids to a school that meets the guidelines the government sets. The bulk of the $1.3 trillion in funding comes from state and local governments, with federal funding accounting for only about $200 billion. Should they have the means to provide an alternative, they may use their own pocket fillings to educate their children as they see fit. The US allows for profit education systems with charter schools and private education, either could also be not for profit but not government funded. Utilization of charter schools may provide a better environment for some kids but it pulls resources from public schools, already starved for funds. Public schools are funded primarily by the property taxes of those closest, rather than a large federal pool that funds all schools the same by headcount after base population, or similar structure of equalized resources. This means that the citizens who make the least money, get the least funded education. If a group of people buy housing in an area that quickly develops causing property values to rise substantially, even if they can afford the house they bought, all around them pricing increases from groceries to property taxes. If the value of your house triples, your taxes and insurance do as well, forcing the disadvantaged into displacement again.
The country saw terrific growth in the 1940-70’s and the American Dream was made possible. With opportunity, the nation began telling the young that one must advance past high school. College degrees and trade school programs became essential for success and the message has been pushed to the youth for the last 50 years. This has become problematic because the growth the US experienced was unsustainable. Two populations were devastated to allow for growth creation and expansion similar to what Europe experienced after the Bubonic Plague. Young men were killed en masse in WWI and WWII, killing a great many of the children the immigrant settlers had in the early decades of the 1900’s. The US government had also been systematically exterminating the Native population to drive growth and Westward expansion from the Louisiana Purchase, near the start of the 1800’s and the nation’s official birth. There was economic room, land space available, technologic growth following the Industrial Revolution boiling together to create the unique market opportunities that the USA allowed for immigrants, a developing middle class and even the impoverished to come into opportunity and make new starts. Education became readily available to everyone and was embraced as essential to the society as the children would become the professionals, farmers and producers for the economy. As people were capitalizing within this system, the requirements to succeed increased and the nation told the children to seek higher education that would be out of reach of so many due to economic barriers at every level to even make it to high school graduation. The children were told that the debt would be worth the rewards it will bring as long as they continue to be successful and utilize that education. The primary flaw in this design is that it is rigged to provide education only to those who can already access it in their society. If one must care for siblings, parents, or other relatives, if they work a job as a child to support needs or family needs, they are crippled. A society that does not pay for education, provide educational resources and the means to access it, does not want an educated society.
Society benefits from each educated individual, being educated in whatever fashion, to whatever talent, for whatever end that they want to serve because those individuals reside within that society. You now have trained professionals who can do services for you, provide for you and also teach the society what they know, perhaps in legacy, apprenticeships, storytelling, laboring, performing, caregiving, authorship. All are so highly valuable to the society and have everlasting impact within the society with every relationship formed. The best thing about knowledge is that you can’t keep it all to yourself, people must blab their little facts of knowledge and the tidbits of information, they must earn a living by providing services to others and many want to teach. No one is selfish in education, even the lifelong scholar who can then collect, publish and share that information in continuum. There is never a harm in funding education, unless an entity has a goal to control that population, in which case, the less the people know, the easier it becomes to do. The pretenders can pull back their curtains and don’t even have to hide, once they have made their society ignorant enough to whatever types of information needed. Children are taught the name Helen Keller and to know she was blind and deaf but learned to read and write, what they are not taught is that she also had political beliefs nor what those may have been. Some people believe that humans, and other beings, have more than capital value.
US Education costs currently cost about $10,000 per year, per child within the public education system. Unfortunately, those funds are not being directed to the sources that could serve society better. Rather than splintering funds away into charter schools, school models need to be customized to serve multiple learning styles, in classrooms split by skill and interest rather than age, or test models to see what works by area. Classrooms are not reaching children and we are losing them far before college. Americans need to embrace any education that is offered and available to anyone if they want to survive. This means helping fund education and living expenses, for everyone. This is crucial in getting a living wage for all people. The tiers will need to break down. It is like that “Join or Die” idea. Remember, we are all in this together.
Eugene Debbs: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eugene-V-Debs
Lyndon B. Johnson: https://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/lyndon-b-johnson