The question remains, however, did you get your chance? That, of course, depends on who you are associated with. Public education is the semblance of equality; in no way does public education even wish to actually provide equality. Has society given up on fair and equal education? A better question would be, has society ever even attempted fair and equal education? Of course not. Those who are in power and have set up an economy where power equals knowledge, actually fear that this economy will be used against them in the form of knowledge equals power. Those in power wish to put to death any chance that they might lose power while appearing justified. Those in power want ‘public education’ but they do not want public education. Public education is for the poor, to keep them poor.
Education can not be removed from the power structure it is an essential part of. Schools like Harvard are regarded as the most knowledgeable because the people who go to them are the most powerful. And to preserve the ideal that those who go to Harvard are justified in doing so, various empty symbols of charity and equality are built in. These symbols are empty because public education was empty in the first place. Public education serves to perpetuate power from generation to generation. It can not be dissociated from a society of bigots and gluttons. A society where white babies cost more to adopt than black babies.
“Americans seem to be saying: Do not limit my ability to benefit from – or even enjoy – the sprawl of my own making, bu do protect me from future sprawl. A more nefarious interpretation holds that the anti sprawl campaign is about denying the advantages of sprawl to those no yet benefiting from them.” (Krieger, “Beyond the rhetoric of smart growth” Architecture 6.99, 55) And who do you think those people are? Lets not forget the original reason for the suburbs. Let’s not forget that education was utilized as a justification then too.
The Chicago Public School system now consists of 70% of students who live below the poverty rate. The Chicago Public School systems now consist of a 90% minority students. (Chicago Tribune) And this is the justification given for the elimination of public education. Now it is not only being said that “you had your chance” but that “chance had its chance”. In the state of Illinois earlier this year the following gift was given to the rich:
“Parents can receive the maximum $500 credit on state incomes taxes (a reduction in the tax bill) if they spend at least $2,250 in tuition, book fees or lab fees. To qualify for any benefit at all, parents must spend at least $250 on tuition or other school related costs, such as books or lab fees–but the credit is only a few dollars at that level. The benefit increases as expenses increase to $2,250. Technically, the tax break applies to expenses at public as well as private schools. Since the credit is minimal once it kicks in at $250 in expenses, it won’t provide a substantial break for most public school families…. State revenue officials estimate that the program, previously approved by the Senate, will cost the state’s treasury at least $50 million annually and provide 100,000 families with some credit on their income taxes.” (Chicago Sun Times, May 13, 1999)
The mechanisms of this tax break must be looked at; what is the effect? What is the product? The semblance is that it provides opportunity for all to go to the school of their choice. The effect is that the rich will get more money back than the poor. The effect is that this bill provides a scale which will still keep the poor out of private schools, but give the rich who are already going to private schools more money back. This bill provides the semblance of equal opportunity while assuring that equal opportunity will not happen. It ensures that the poor children won’t be going to the rich children’s school and more than that, it allows the rich to pay less for the poor’s education. The voucher program being proposed in many states is similar to this. It allows for a semblance of public education and equal opportunity while assuring it does not happen. The point of the suburbs and local school districts and neighborhood associations and covenants is to assure that the rich only pay for their own children. The mechanisms which the preservation of power utilizes are infinite and un-separable from the society and education which it provides. (Some proposed bills that exemplify include: in California, making all classes be taught in English, also in California, denying public education to illegal immigrants; in Indiana last year a bill was proposed to make any student who worked after school hours and received below a C average either quit their job or be expelled – if the student participated in athletics and had below a C average, this was ok. Thankfully this one didn’t pass.)
Not only does sending their kid to a good school give the kid a good education, but it assures the kid a certain status by NOT giving someone else an education (namely minorities and the ‘deservedly’ poor). When we consume something we must see what we are consuming. Private education is not only a step towards better education, it is a step towards the deprivation of education for others. Private education does not only improve a child’s chances, it provides a stacked deck for the status quo. It does not only provide a winner, but a loser.
Billions of dollars are spent on private education, but when taxes are raised there is always a cry of ‘we can’t afford it’. Obviously it can be afforded, it just can’t be afforded for “those” people. Abandoning public education is not abandoning equality because equality has never been pursued. Abandoning public education is simply another step in a self perpetuating narcissist guise of safety and convenience that necessarily produce more poison than cure so that they can never be consumed. The abandonment of public education is cannibalism.
There is more evil in this world than I ever dared to think. The entire structure of american education, politics, and economy is based on the preservation of power through the continual removal of any and all morsels of substance which could be obtained by those without power. And when those without power produce a currency of their own, something of value, it is hastily and greedily consumed, in order that the currency becomes a part of the powers currency. In order that it may be digested before it grows into a life of its own.
“But let there be no misunderstanding: it is not that a real man, the object of knowledge, philosophical reflection, or technical intervention, has been substituted for the soul, the illusion of the theologians. The man described for us, whom we are invited to free, is already in himself the effect of a subjection much more profound than himself. A ‘soul’ inhabits him and brings him into existence, which is itself a factor in the mastery that power exercises over the body. The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body.” (foucault, discipline and punish 30)
It is the prison of thought, of language, of power so imbedded in ourselves that we can not conceive ourselves without it. We preserve power not only through depriving others of it, but through the basic tool of capitalism: consumption. By creating within one a soul which thinks and desires based on a language of binaries. By creating a desire greater than the means to attain this desire. By continual barrage of advertisement reminding the soul that it is not content, while placing within it the assurance it will never be content. By placing means and thoughts, and plans and goals and calling this collection a soul. By a carrot on a stick.
Are we really supposed to believe that public education couldn’t provide real opportunity? Do we really believe that public education and equal opportunity are beyond our grasp? We can spend trillions of dollars on Coca-Cola and mercedes benz and hardly a dime on equality. Why? Because we do not want equality. We don’t want public transportation. We don’t want public education. We don’t want equal opportunity. Because we like things the way they are. And we have the power to keep things that way.
Beware of anything touted as a chance for equality. Equality is the last word you hear before the verdict is handed down. Equality is justification for power. Never forget that the media is controlled by those in power. (The Telecommunications Act of 1996 “was passed in virtual secrecy, without any discussion of of its long-range consequences. ” It “legitimizes monopolies” and “unleashes them on the global market.” George Gerbner, Cultural Environment Movement quoted at http://www.cep.org/protest.html)
The internet isn’t going to provide equality.
“Fewer than one-third of black students own a home computer, compared to 73 percent of white students.” (CNET Racial Discrepancies on Net)
“Class Divisions Emerging on the Net”–conducted by professor Mitchell Moss, director of
the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University, and research associate Steve
Mitra–found that “higher concentrations of the poor (those earning less than $20,000) were
strongly correlated with lower densities of those with Internet access whereas higher
densities of the rich (those earning over $100,000 a year) were correlated with more wired
communities.” (CNET Digital Divide an Income Gap)
“schools with 50 percent or greater minority enrollment only have on average 37 percent of instructional rooms wired, compared to 59 percent for schools of 6 to 20 percent minority enrollment.” (Internet access in public schools)
Unwiring the World
Public education is not going to provide equality. This is a global problem.
It is time to demand radical revolutionary change. Demand education that challenges, that embraces, that looks at life as whole. We must understand social, cultural, psychological, physiological difference and tailor education to each and every student. Have we given up on fair and equal education? Have we abandoned any search for equality? Are you scared to go out in the city at night? Public schools should be so much better than any other school that no one would consider sending their child anywhere else. They should produce individuals. Public schools could have the potential to EQUALIZE. This is precisely the reason they have been abandoned.