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Très Petit Mafioso of Education
Education in the USA began with the idea of accessibility for all. Initially, education in the USA was only for the elite, and included a heavy focus on religion. Thus, the less advantaged of that era did not have that opportunity to read, write or do simple Math. Their path was of lesser value which included subservient job opportunities, scarce opportunities for advancement, and a life much more difficult because of your devalued social status. But this idea of limiting education to the elite dissipated, and was frame worked into including the general masses. Yet, the reality is that the rich remained rich, and the poor, poor. Despite this change, the reality of inequality in social class or economic wealth transposed the system of educating all by systematically providing the physicality of needs according to your stature in society.
Thus, post-Civil Rights era, the inequality in wealth was more evident in the urban areas where blight contrasted with the upper-echelon of society. The poor, being in that state, had challenges which became counter-productive to obtaining a proper education by (that group) try to develop survival methods in order to live. These challenges that the poor had faced seemed to have ridiculed the idea of freedom and equality for all. It seemed to falsify the idea that economic independence could be had with this newfound freedom.
This separation of the rich from the poor is still evident--with a more modern twist. We now have the cliques of the super-rich which will include politicians, business moguls, movie and music celebrities, with the general support of the middle-class. The middle-class' role is a mediatory one. The middle-class help to support those considered less-fortunate, yet help increase the wealth of the super-rich by supporting their need for more money. The elimination of poverty can be a reality, but the superiority complex is ingrained within us.
In Bjorkland & Freeman(1994), both researchers did a comparative study on the US and Swedish economic systems, then outlined five definitive strategies that Sweden has used to help eliminate poverty within their system. These strategies include Sweden's belief on incorporating an egalitarian method of income or work distribution and earnings within its workfare system (pg. 2).
Cultural Literacy vs. the Truth
oligarchy vs. republicanism
jobs are made available
the Joneses Effect
Keeping up with the Jones' is a cultural lifestyle that has been inborn in every aspect of the US mindset. This idea of wanting what others have has become a virus that has infected our rationale or ethical minds--lacking mercy no matter the economic or racial background. Smith (2014), in her article, gave reasons why Americans desire what they usually cannot afford:
- The desire to show off our success
- The need to have what other people have
- Prolific advertising and product placements
- Easy credit
- A society that favors instant gratification over hard work
The very reasons that have transform the system of education, as it is today. The criteria is still evident in a universal initiative to educate our students, but a new path has developed to challenge our forefathers' intent. Education has become "big business"!
The System of Educating Everyone
"… 30 years ago, America was the leader in quantity and quality of high school diplomas. Today, our nation is ranked 18th out of 23 industrialized countries …" (DoSomething.org)
The big business of education has become a factory of ideas whose output is less than perfect. As an instructor for over 20 years, the digression in the methodology of educating students became more evident with the advent of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates. NCLB mandates brought an awareness of the ignored groups such as the handicap and ESOL group of students, yet it brought less focus and governing initiatives for the gifted students. NCLB created a need for the less-advantaged, and brought an awareness of importance to that particular, and usual segmented group. Unfortunately, the gifted and economically-disadvantaged student was lost in a "no man's land" of pre-planned immersion and waiting for the other student-groups to play "catch-up". No provisions were made to ensure gifted students had an exact route to recognition of their efforts. Programs targeting the gifted were few because the focus became the protected students under the NCLB mandates. The protected students had provisions which would take them beyond high school, while the gifted had to scramble for a much surer path. The gifted student was lost in a myriad of special programs and subject-area modifications. Often times it was simple to use these students as assistants in relaying knowledge to others, possibly grading papers, or becoming principal's pet. The more elite group of students had less of a problem as their gifted, yet economically disadvantaged counterparts. Their path to college or university was ensured with perfect grades, and paved with money.
Now big business has arrived in the land of education.
Learning communities became a system dictated by new mandates for the reasoning of accountability, then profit. These communities had to be accountable for their protected students, and increase performance levels. Therefore, the student that was failing became non-existent nor accountable because of the need to have the required end of year grades. NCLB had the framework to help the protected student to achieve, where methods were developed to enhance as well as increase learning levels. More so, it brought the protected student to the forefront of inclusion within the mainstream classroom. But, the negative result of having had these new mandates is that it impacted the learning process for students who did not fall under these protected legal requirements. There soon arose a lack of impetuous to educating of self when there are given secondary avenues to this system of acquiring learning--in other words "shortcuts".
"… The kids learn early that there are no consequences for not doing homework or even class work …" (Mathews, 2014)
Students do not have to learn anything. If they can find the most opportune format of learning with the necessary support of administration, then this will dictate the outcome--which usually benefits them the most. Teachers are puppets to the system of learning where we have to please the whims of everyone, if we want to keep our jobs.
There is usually a social hierarchy that governs the outcomes within a learning community.
The idea of this social hierarchy represents the usual interrelationship that is ongoing in most learning communities--even in other socio-economic realms. Students are allowed to manipulate the system within the learning community because of their new status: the manipulator. They have been given this new position because they have become the customers that we need for the business of learning. If our customers are not happy, then success will be at its minimal. In business, if the customer is not happy, they can "buy" elsewhere. The owners of these business want the customer to be happy, therefore, the service representatives (or teachers) have to find new strategies to convince the customer to stay and buy.
Social hierarchy within a learning community
We can minimize the influence of students, the popular staffer (who usually will provide one paper for the semester), ad min and mandatory business practices by reinforcing the necessity of learning. Students should have a voice, but that voice should reverberate one of accountability through learning and positively impacting the future.
Bjorkland, Anders & Freeman, Richard, B. (1994). Generating Equality and Eliminating Poverty, the Swedish Way. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://www.nber.org/chapters/c6519
Colonial Education. (2014). Education for Girls and Boys. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://www.chesapeake.edu/Library/EDU_101/eduhist_colonial.asp
Dictionary.com. (2014). Retrieved on November 30, 2014, from http://dictionary.reference.com/
DoSomething.org. (n.d.). Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about- education-america
Mathews, Jay. (January 26). Students won't learn? Go visit their parents, Washington Post. Retrieved on November 30, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/students-wont-learn-go-visit-their- parents/2014/01/26/a2519390-849c-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html
Smith, Lisa. (2014). Stop Keeping Up With The Joneses - They're Broke, Investopedia. Retrieved on November 30, 2014, from http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/conspicuous_consumption.asp