Education now only for the wealthy?

Low-income children are screwed when it comes to getting a good education. New studies show that a quality education in America is now increasingly only available to the very rich. A study out of Stanford shows that the gap in standardized testing scores between rich students and low-income students has increased 40% since the 1960’s. And another study out of the University of Michigan shows that gap between rich and low-income students when it comes to college completion – which is the single biggest factor when it comes to succeeding in the economy – has grown 50% since the 1980’s.

As the New York Times reports, “The changes are tectonic, a result of social and economic processes unfolding over many decades.” Those social and economic processes are called Reagan, Clinton, and Bush-onomics. In the last 30 years, thanks to the Reagan Tax Cuts, Clinton’s attack on welfare and embrace of Free Trade, and Bush’s Great Depression – our economy only benefits the very rich.

And with public education budgets being slashed around the nation – and taxpayer dollars being diverted to for-profit schools – the one great equalizer in America – our education system is under attack.


mathboy's picture
mathboy 11 years 6 weeks ago

But there's also good news in education. Colorado just opted out of No Child Left Behind.

a2phil's picture
a2phil 11 years 6 weeks ago

And the conservatives will say the lower test scores in public schools are because the public schools have been desegregated back in the 50's....

Bideford2007's picture
Bideford2007 11 years 6 weeks ago

I think the public schools are in trouble because of several problems. First when I went to school in the 50s (oh lordy) the teachers were so dedicated and happy to have a civil service job that provided security. They were also from the best and the brightest in their class. Many women, not seeing a career in business were content to become the school teacher. These people were not so much about having a job but having a passion. With the opening up of higher paying jobs for women the best and brightest are seeking work elsewhere. There have also been terrific cultural changes over the years too which has produced a very laid back attitude toward the importance of schooling for the masses. We used to be glad to go back in September with polished shoes, starched dresses, and shirts with a pride of appearance. You only have to see kids coming from schools these days to see the idea of cool is to look as disheveled as possible. Look to see who the suppliers are for torn jeans with rag bottoms and the tees with some outrageous sayings and pictures. The girls have black nail and blue lipstick. Their grammar is awful and their vocabulary is lacking. Just go on any You Tube sight and look at the kind of language is used. The worst filth you can imagine. These are the things that are driving anyone who can afford it to the private sector for education. Those schools are very choosy about who they admit and have not worry about telling a parent that they do not want their child back next year. I sort of get rid of the riff raff. The public schools on the other hand have to talk all comers and the worse the schools get the more of the dregs they get. It takes a leader in each and every school to enforce a dress code if there is no uniform Never mind the kids hate uniforms. The high end stores hate them too because they cannot push their tacky products on millions of kids anymore. I don't believe students should be beaten in school but the fear of a ruler slap on the palm of your hand certainly helped keep us all paying attention.

Most of all we need smaller and not larger school. Teachers need to know their students and the parents. We keep building bigger schools with gyms, pool, football fields, and every other perk you can think of which has nothing at all to do with learning. More homework, much more required reading and maybe even ethics would come in handy. We don't need to be providing the media with football players we need scientists, engineers, doctors, and all kinds of professional people.

Don't mind me, I guess I am just an old fuddy duddy but it's hard to believe all the wonderful scholars who came out of log cabin schools.

alicecbrown's picture
alicecbrown 11 years 6 weeks ago

Ma. has too. What the dishonest Bush administration never told the gullible masses was that No Child Left Behind was unfunded, an unrealistic pie in the sky. Now Ma. has the opportunity to fund realizable goals.

rbd171's picture
rbd171 11 years 6 weeks ago

this is exactly the way the rich want it.

the rich want to be the managers and ceo's.

the small people must scramble for the crumbs, keep 'em busy struggling thru and who cares if they make ends meet?

and as long as a significant number of our population remain distracted with things like gay marriage, abortion, contraception, etc. the rich will continue their assault on the 99%.

i mean really... what percentage of population wants a gay marriage?, wants an abortion? wants their contraception covered by their insurance? these are important issues and we are standing up for the discriminated few... but when are we going to stand up on the big issues for the many?????

larrytemple's picture
larrytemple 11 years 6 weeks ago

We are in trouble in education primarily because the government is involved in setting up educational policy and controling the schools and teachers. Schools need to be run by the educators, not administrative bureaucrats taking orders from people not involved with children at all. The educators are the ones who are the professionals and the great majority of them are doing it because they love the children and want to see them learn and grow. Of course most of our educators have also gone thru the governmentally controlled system that has created this mess; so it is hard for them to think for themselves. Because governments aren't interested in truly educating people into creativity and freedom, and by that I mean becoming human beings who out of their own selves take responsibility for their lives and actions and give meaning to their existance. Governments seem to primarily set their policies based upon economic considerations (and how to make citizens they can control and manipulate): what does "industry" need, what kind of jobs are we preparing them for. Do we need scientists right now? engineers? computer programers? You get the picture. Government mandated public education was originally set up on the "factory" model, to prepare workers who would be willing to perform tasks over and over again and not complain (too much), who would somehow be content to be the pawns for industrial civilization. We need be educating them to become whole Human Beings, creative beings, who can do anything that's needed, who can think for themselves, solve problems that haven't even been seen or thought of yet. Everyone in the field of education knows that we don't have any idea what will be needed in 5 years, let alone 10 or 20. The jobs that are needed now, were not even in existance a few years ago.

Education's root word is educare, which means to draw out from within. Only the "Waldorf" educational philosophy and methods truly recognizes that every human being comes into incarnation to bring their gift to the world and it is our job as educators to help remove any hindrances and to help bring them forth in joy and excitement, to help them learn to love the world, to know it as a whole, to feel and know the great sweep of human history and evolution, to sense the ideals that have led us forward, to love people and what needs to be done; to educate them thru goodness, beauty and truth. All the research into the results of educational systems points to "Waldorf" being superior in every way, with where the graduates go, their success in college and in their career choices and their personal fulfillment with their lives.

Testing is the furthest thing from education imaginable. Maybe it has a place at the end of 6th grade, 8th grade and graduation; but it is not education. Teachers if allowed, will know their students and be working to help each one as they need. In elementary Waldorf, the teacher stays with the same students for possibly up to 8 years, thus really knowing them, so that they can truly serve their unfolding. Yes, the students will have plenty of ways to show what they've learned; but just "facts" are dead. It's like feeding them stones for bread and expecting them to regurgitate it. Truth is a living reality and is deeply connected to goodness or health, which is connected to wholeness; which is what the world needs now is for us to serve the whole. This whole industrial civilization, that basically enslaves most of humanity and destroys the earth, needs to be completely turned around. We need free thinking, creative human beings to meet these challenges. We will somehow do it; but right now our educational system serves death instead of life.

We need to get government out of education. Government is about "rights", protecting our freedoms, protecting us from force and fraud. Education is about culture and developing whole, healthy, free and creative human beings. Economics is about serving human needs. Liberty or Freedom in the cultural/educational sphere, Equality (before the Law) in the Rights of Governmental sphere, and Fraternity or Brother/Sisterhood in the Economic sphere. As you can see it's all messed up everywhere right now.

Get someone on your program Thom, who can speak well about this. There's several people in NYC or up in Columbia County NY who can speak well on this. Gary Lamb? or contact the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento or for that matter there's a Waldorf School in Washington DC and one in Baltimore and one in NYC, close to 200 around the country. In fact they are all over the place. Out here in California there are even quite a few Charter Waldorf Schools, though in that there is some compromise with government interference. Never-the-less a noble effort.

arky12's picture
arky12 11 years 6 weeks ago

It has got to start with informing the voters. Grass roots actions can overcome corporate super pacs and all their money. An informed and educated voter is a wise voter. Hard to believe I voted Republicans for President since the 70's and in the past 9 months I've done a 180 and now am a Democratic Committee member. I am attending the State Committee meeting this morning, hosted by my County committee, for the candidate selection process and also the delegates for the National Convention in Charlotte, NC and I am going to try for that. I live in the 4th District in AR and wish I was in the 3rd, where we will have a strong Progressive running for Congress in November. Progressives have an uphill battle in the state of AR even though we are a blue state, we are a blue dog dem state, so some of our Reps tend to lean toward the right. Too far in some cases for my tastes. I read in the Washington Post that the Democrats have a good chance, at least for now, to retake the House in Nov. If we can do that, increase the majority in the Senate and get Mr. Obama re-elected, we will stand a good chance of improving the futures of our young and sustaining our elderly, the dis-enfranchised, restoring our economy, working towards renewable, green energies and getting a more liberal Justice on the Supreme Court and work to getting rid of corporate influence in our politics.

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 11 years 6 weeks ago

I am pondering this point a lot this weekend: People like Thom Hartmann are hardly able to educate uneducated majorities. The entirely uneducated don't listen to our entirely different world. An educated mind can hardly socialize with those simple minds. We speak a different language and live in a different world. I'm even afraid of this simple-minded brutality of thinking. It's gross and you wanna run away.

I also watched some nasty stuff I had never seen before, on YouTube: Godzilla, War of the Worlds (three-legged fighting machines -- how bizarre, insanely senseless stuff!). So this stuff crapped peoples brains for decades, made any who gets addicted to it an idiot! So now I have an idea what's going on on many people's minds.....

A group of adolescents can be very disturbing to a teacher, even in high-school. If you have to educate kids of uneducated families it gets tougher still. I couldn't do that, frankly. This is why I was flat-out depressed, after getting Thom Hartmann's Friday blog-question. Educate America is my favorite topic! Though suddenly I was unable to write a comment. The robots helped me out: Although I was never much interested in science fiction stuff, I fell for sort of star wars creature. I think he could be able to do the beastly job to educate the entirely uneducated......

I come to the conclusion, these robots might be able to help: They are able to handle simple-minded brutality, although extremely smart and highly educated. Simple people love Star Wars stuff and are supposed to like communicating with those robots.... who then could kinda sneak education into them. Modern communication robots do have a therapeutic effect indeed, as I read.

The point is, you can't change the program on a human teacher's brain so soon. But you can change his mind at any time and in almost no time. You can improve his skills as a teacher constantly and make him extremely effective. As you can make him able to bridge the gaps between low-educated and the highly intelectual world. An army of these guys could easily communicate with lonesome kids of so-called red-necks. This is extremely difficult for average educated humans -- these robots do it easily, for they're emotionally not vulnerable.

gary heyder 11 years 6 weeks ago

i went to high school in the 60's first to a catholic school were they knew the Bible verse spare the rod and you spoil the child ; my grades were good b/c i knew without a doubt some kind of grief would come if i did not do my homework or did not have some prepared study done for a test it was just accepted that the way it was ;then i went to a public school my last 2 years were basically if i didnt cause trouble i knew i would at least pass a coarse with just some study my grades went down ;as i moved into the real world several jobs taught me that i needed a trade so i went to a community college were i graduated as ambulance medic /today how aware are teens of importance of a education ?

isaidso's picture
isaidso 11 years 6 weeks ago

Priority one needs to be educating ALL our children. The curent model is an old and failed model. We keep trying to maintain this old model while at the same time trying to fix it. It's like trying to fix a clogged drain under the sink with the water running full blast on hot. All I ever hear is we need more money. Creativity is no where to be found. Who/what is a teacher? Administrators why? Social engineering in the class room? Testing for who? Why do politicians control the purse strings? Teachers unions? Why do parents matter? Layers and layers of beauocracy, why? We need to educate our kids despite and with all of these challenges. Until we get on the same page and plow through all this adult drama our kids are SCREWED!

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 6 weeks ago

Isn't that just special, the social and economic processes are unfolding just the way 1%ers like the Kochs have planned. Trickle down economics with its facilitation of a massive shift of wealth to the very top has helped enable them to purchase the Supreme Court along some state governors.

What a coincidence, suddenly state governments are in the red not because of tax loopholes for the rich, corporations paying zero in taxes, states cutting taxes on the wealthiest, or the Kochs getting their unfunded Bush tax cuts, or because Wall Street banks looted America, or even because of the unfunded wars, which all crashed the economy......they're in the red because teachers with their unions have gained excessively generous pay and benefits. Yep that's what did those damn unions.....I guess there's nothing excessive about the top 400 having more wealth than 1/2 the population combined! Keep the rabble uneducated and they'll buy into anything. Hell, they might even believe that the hit and run looting of the workforce by guys like Romney is a form of job creation and should be rewarded with an office in the White House.

The future of young Americans depends on how many of the American 99%ers take to the streets to OCCUPY and EXPOSE the right wing, CONSERVATIVE, "unregulated," capitalist, agenda.

bewildered1's picture
bewildered1 11 years 5 weeks ago

"High out-of-wedlock birth rates mean a constantly renewed cohort of adolescent males without male parenting, leading to disorderly neighborhoods and schools." "Afirican-American children born to unmarried women 70%." Nathan Glazer, sociology professor emeritus at Howard University. In the Hispanic community, it is 50% births to unwed mothers.

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 11 years 4 weeks ago

How about those adolescent cohorts of males from unwed lesbian families without bulldyke-parenting?

Happy Presidents' Day everybody!

Sue in Denver's picture
Sue in Denver 10 years 40 weeks ago

I agree with most of what you said. The Waldorf system sounds ideal. And I totally agree that central administrators structure schools according to business models and horrible politics. They don't even try to see what's happening with kids in classrooms. They don't care about what teachers need to succeed. I'm speaking of large districts, not necessarily small districts.

But, as an educator in Denver schools, I am writing because I caught Thom's recommendation that all schools be funded by the government and equalized throughout the country. Thom, that is the best idea I have heard to save our education system. I always vote for every bond issue, even though my children are grown, and I never complain about property taxes. However, families should not be penalized for living in a poor state. What I have seen in Denver is that there is a vast difference between living in Denver and living in a suburb. When I went to my own kids' conferences, I waited in line. When we had conferences where I taught, we were lucky to get a fourth of the parents there. There was no PTA in any of the schools in which I taught. There just wasn't sufficient interest. Some parents were working, more of them were involved in partying or gang activity. Fund raisers tend not to be very successful in schools that have 80% of their students on free lunches. And Denver does not have a real ghetto as many large cities do.

Thanks, Thom. You're the best! I learn from you every time I hear you.

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