Day’s Verse:

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 –

15 thoughts on “I Read It In The Weekly Midnight Star

  1. Only if each and every town submits to a form of state regulation for their finances; it is up to each borough to decide what dollars go to their education, and its up to the voters within each borough whether to increase or decrease government spending on the school systems. Without letting a higher force manage this, it would be a slippery slope unto each town saying their roads aren’t as nice as the “rich” town next door, and their police station isn’t as kept as the rich town next door, etc forever. We would all want greener grass and nobody would be able to provide it. This idea is quickly turning socialist. We just have to say that sometimes there are haves and sometimes there are have-nots. Again, you’re making out education as not in the hands of the educated. Home-schooling and home tutors are used for these reasons. I’m not saying private school is superior to public school, that is another step in the wrong direction.

  2. You are correct, those who live in wealthier neighborhoods and make more money do get better educations. But forcing a wage for teachers and the cost of education brings about other problems. If i lived in town A, and i payed 20% of my income to education and you lived in town B and payed 2% of your income to education, and our kids got the exact education. Would i not be justified in feeling a bit ripped off? i payed 10x as much for the same thing. And what about all those people that don’t pay property taxes? Should they get “free” education while I pay an infinate amount more than them?
    You get what you pay for, and if you can’t afford to pay for the best, then if you truly have the drive to succeed you will find a way in which to learn that which you wish to know. Does everyone have the opportunity to learn the same materiel? yes they do. The difference is how much effort they have to go to in order to get it. THat is what money does, that is what capitalism is.

  3. I don’t think they do, though, because poorer kids actually can’t work harder and get the same results middle-class kids do. It’s not their fault that their parents are poor; why should we punish kids for being born to the wrong family? Granted it isn’t fair to have some people paying higher taxes and others less, but isn’t an equal education a basic right for people? It seems better to have a few richer people feeling ripped off when they can afford it than to have poor kids having their opportunities seriously limited by the simple fact that their parents made bad choices or, perhaps, were trapped in a poor area just like their children.

  4. Ok, I’m gonna throw my 2 cents into the ring here. I have to say I would NOT like to see Washington’s system implemented nationally. While it sounds good in theory, in practice it is much different. As far as teacher’s salaries, it is true that basically all teachers state wide-regardless of district get paid the same. Sounds good right? But how do you expect the teacher who teaches in Issaquah to live off the same ammount of money as someone living in Carnation? The cost of living is vastly different. If there was some way to convert it to a percentage system, you’d be getting closer, but as it is right now, Washington’s system has, in part, contributed to the recent teacher’s strikes, including last fall’s longest in record strike in Marysville. Ok, maybe that was a bit more like 15 cents. : )

  5. Oh, and the comment about education only truly being equal once society overcomes it’s citizens’ greed. . .well, that’s not going to happen. But that open’s the “man is inherently evil” can of worms, which is not what this is all about.

  6. Yeah I won’t deny that every system has its troubles, including Washington’s. And maybe that way of paying teachers should be revised, but what I was more concerned with was the students’ quality of education. Do you know anything about how WA students compare to others around the country?

  7. KF: “but isn’t an equal education a basic right for people?”

    This is assuming that education that is more than the basics that every school provides is a right, not a privilege. When every school excels in some level, all others must play catchup. This is not only impossible, but creates a social homogenization: we’d all know the same exact things. Equal is a hard thing to come by for 50 states with lots and lots of schools. Children are only guaranteed by law a scant amount of basics; we should thank our parents for not following the exact legal guidelines for childcare. Thusly, a high school education of any form is all that is _guaranteed_ by the state. How that education is received is the difference. The “No Child Left Behind” program is just another highly glorified basics guideline, plus computer aptitude for surfin’ the net beechnut! It’s a move to get some schools who can’t even get to that basic requirement back on par.

  8. KF: “because poorer kids actually can’t work harder and get the same results middle-class kids do.”

    Whoa whoa whoa. We are saying that if some child totally owns a poor school system, there’s nothing they can do to either transfer or supplement his learning? Are you saying that would be an impossiblity in the first place; a child in such a poor environment, being able to work hard and master everything, cause somehow those in poverty can never get their way out? I think somebody needs to watch the classic “You’re the man now, dog” film, Finding Forester.

  9. Ryan: “But how do you expect the teacher who teaches in Issaquah to live off the same ammount of money as someone living in Carnation?”

    Where I come from, none of the teachers up north (where the cost of living was much higher) actually live in the boroughs in which they teach (with the rare exception of the rich spouse), so they commute from the southern part of the county or even NY state. Credentials alone should determine what a teacher gets paid; otherwise they’d all move up north to the cheapest house and make a little on the side, whereas those in the south get less physical income from the same amount of work. Does working 7-4 in Carnation equate the same as 7-4 in Issaquah? Does a pound of feathers weigh less than a pound of sand?

  10. It is often the same here in Washington, but is that how it should be? Driving over an hour to work, because you can’t afford it? And as far as the same ammount of work, sure it’s the same (assuming good teachers), but then the argument could be made nation wide. There are different costs of living in states like Montana, for example, than for New York, so should workers in Montana be paid the same $ ammount as those who do the SAME work in New York? Even though it costs more to live in New York than in Montana?

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