The U.S.A. and her educational crisis
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela.
Once, we were a nation that understood this: education is essential for freedom, for a functioning democracy, for change, for hope, and for a better world. But we have committed the great travesty of apathy and purposeful ignorance. Societal neglect and complacency. A lost ability to see beyond our own noses, our own lives, our own present problems. A forgetting of what positive changes an educated mind can enact in not only their own futures, but the lives of others. Our education system is imploding, and still, no one with a voice seems to care. To be a millionaire is to have a voice, yet, it is perceivably in the best interests of those holding the power to continue along the path of shoddy educational systems and feigned ignorance of our problems.
We are Americans. We aided in and accelerated victory in two world wars. We invented the light bulb, the credit card, the airplane, the atomic bomb, and the cat litter. We are an economic powerhouse. We are the land of free speech and free religion, the supposed land of opportunity. The home of the brave Founding Fathers, the brave soldiers, the innovators, the thinkers.
We are Americans. We don’t care if people cannot purchase their insulin because they don’t have health insurance. We don’t care if we are dying from opioids, because those are pills, and therefore okay–the rich can become richer, you know. We don’t care about low-income, minority children without access to good, public education because without perceived return on investment, their voices make no sound for our politicians. We don’t care if we continuously fall in education rankings worldwide. We don’t care if we are dumb, because we are comfortable. We. Don’t. Care.
We feel safe in our misconceptions, in our story. This land of opportunity has become a joke.
The United States has the largest defense budget in the world, to the tune of those of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the U.K., and Japan, combined. Which is all well and good. It makes us feel invincible. Our red button is bigger and better, shinier than yours. We are the greatest country on Earth, you know.
But are we? You know my answer, at least, already.
Without education, we fall. Heavily, we continue to invest in defense, without remembering that education is also a defense. Defence against not only other nations, but against despots within our own. Make education valued again. Better invest the funding that we do have. Make teaching a respected profession again.
Without accessible, thought-provoking education, you have social stagnation. The gaps between the rich, middle-class, and poor are the highest on record, and our educational system is reinforcing, rather than addressing, this inaccessibility of social mobility. We continue to fall behind other first world countries in a variety of metrics, yet we maintain our policy of bemoaning the injustices in comparing other societies to ours.We are too different, too diverse, we say. We don’t have the funding, we say. It’s not our fault not our priority. When did we cease seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and develop, instead of making excuses for ourselves?
When did we cease knowing education and the mind are powerful and necessary for a functioning democracy?
Why don’t we care enough?
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” George Washington.
As accessible, good education fades away, then dumb and silent we will be led, willing sheep to slaughter.