I am going to post something about the science education issue in California – see “Creating Controversy” – http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/01/evolution later in the day. But right now, I have to “cool down” a bit.
As you may or may not know, I was a high school student in Missouri for one year before my family moved to Tennessee. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Truman State University and a Masters in Education from the University of Missouri. I taught high school chemistry, physics, and general science courses for six years in mostly rural schools in Missouri. Both of my daughters were to Missouri public schools and one of my daughters currently teaches in Missouri.
So, I follow what is happening in Missouri (and especially St. Louis) with interest.
So, the recent decision by the Missouri State Supreme Court (see the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – “Missouri schools have no right to equal funding, and will get no extra dollars, state supreme court says”) both shocks and outrages me. As it says in the article, “Students in poor school districts, the court said, are not entitled to the same amount of money as those in wealthy districts.”
Schools in Missouri are funded from property tax assessments. This means that school districts that are essentially rural will have less money for schools than those districts in more urban settings. And Missouri is very much a rural state. As Justice Michael Wolff noted, this is a very flawed system for funding and the court should have taken up the issue.
Some will applaud the court for not taking a more active stance in the issue, citing Chief Justice John Robert’s comment that judges are to be umpires in the game, not participants. But the umpire has the right to stop the game when it is clear that it is not a fair game. One of the key issues, I believe, in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in “Brown versus the Board of Education” was that it was not a fair game.
We again see in this decision the idea expressed by George Orwell in Animal Farm, “all are equal but some are more equal than others.” If nothing else, this decision continues the same pattern of thought that pervades this country today; those who have will keep what they have and those who have nothing are plain out of luck (I could say other things but won’t).
This country is headed in a direction that can only lead to destruction. The sad part is that we are willing to go in that direction and very few people are yelling “STOP, you are going the wrong way.”
As long as we are saying that equality is based on the size of one’s checkbook, then there is no true equality. This country was founded in part because people sought a way out of lives that offered no hope and no promise. It has been the recurring theme through our history. But it also seems that once someone escaped that life and had what they sought, they 1) were not satisfied and wanted even more and 2) would do everything in their power to insure that others do not have that same opportunity.
Many who are affected by decisions such as this one seem to believe that those who make this decisions have their interests in mind. But it is clear that those who make such decisions and who seek such decisions have only their own self-centered interests in mind.
There once was a war on poverty. But the poverty rate has remained steady since the 1970s and today, Americans have allowed poverty to fall off the national agenda, says Sheldon Danziger, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1589660).
It would appear that we have now declared war on the poor and the middle class, taking from them and giving to the rich and the powerful. The mandate then was to eliminate poverty. It would appear that the mandate now is to increase poverty and widen the economic gap between the rich and the poor, the have’s and the have not’s.