Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.
Luke 17:1 – 3
The United States is the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation. Students from around the world flock to American universities for the best education money can buy, while in a twist of irony many American students receive inferior educations as a result of inequality in the American educational system. Two systems of thought dominate the discussion regarding our current education system: functionalist theory and conflict theory. Functionalist theorists such as Harry L. Gracey, author of “Kindergarten as Academic Boot Camp,” believe that the system now in place contributes to social stability by teaching children proper roles as students and as members of society from kindergarten onward. Such conflict theorists as Jonathan Kozol, author of “American Education: Savage Inequalities,” and Caroline Persell and Peter Cookson, authors of “Chartering and Bartering: Elite Education and Social Reproduction” state that the education system is inherently designed to benefit the wealthier families by providing their children with greater educational opportunities. The American education system needs revision.
Having examined these theories carefully, I have come to the conclusion that a revision in the educational system is not only desirous but necessary. Children cannot determine to what type of parents they are born, but this disparity in educational quality punishes or rewards them for their parents’ status nonetheless. Schools are useful for teaching the student role, and their capacity for maintaining social stability cannot be underemphasized; that part of the educational system needs no revision. Public schools, however, can equalize funding by following Kozol’s suggestion to pool all monies and distribute it more evenly.
I would take this a step farther, suggesting that Washington State’s system for distribution of funding should be implemented nationally. Washington’s government funds schools and what property taxes are collected go into a pool that distributes money according to each school’s need. Teachers receive wages not paid by their district but by the state, so that a teacher in the rich Mercer Island area receives the same pay as a teacher in rural Carnation; if a district desires to pay its teachers more to compensate for different living costs, they are allowed to increase their own taxes a small amount, which is paid out to those teachers. In essence, the state plays Robin Hood, giving to the poor schools from the rich schools, eliminating the inequality cycle Kozol observed.
However, as well as that works, I believe that no minor changes can equalize the education system. The uneven education quality observed is part of a bigger, deeper societal issue that no amount of small government changes could ever remedy by distributing funding evenly, for people at heart are inherently selfish, desirous of the best for themselves and their children. Only when society can overcome its citizens’ greedy personalities will the education system truly have the opportunity for equality.
– KF –