Anger, Rage, and Frustration


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.

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2 thoughts on “Anger, Rage, and Frustration

  1. There may be some legitimate state concern in making sure that all state school districts have a minimum level of school support. But poorer districts have no more legitimate right to the same amount of funding as the richer school districts then those who can only afford a 20-year-old Ford Escort have a right to own a new Rolls Royce.

  2. Carl,
    Having gone to school at a time and in a state where state support was deliberately kept to a minimum, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to your comment.

    But I have several thoughts. What this decision does is extend the plantation mentality of the early 19th century deep into the 21st century.

    First, we know that there is a correlation between education and the amount that one earns in their lifetime. It stands to reason that there are economic reasons for wanting to make sure that everyone gets the best possible education they can. But if our educational systems are limited, then the benefits gained will also be limited. I can see how some, who have the benefit of better schools and a better education, may want to keep those benefits for themselves and that leads me to my second thought.

    If education is the great liberating force that it is meant to be, it behooves those who have the money and the power to make sure that schools are separated by rich and poor. It will keep them in power. But we wouldn’t want everyone to have access to power, now would we?

    Finally, the decision about what car one buys, no matter what they can afford, is just that, a decision. Many children do not have the opportunity to make a decision about what school they attend because there are no options. Just as the Supreme Court of the United States indicated that the vote of one person was the same as the vote of another person in another state and just as was shown in “Brown vs. the Board of Education” that separate but equal schools are hardly equal, each child attending school should have the same opportunities as every other child, no matter where they live.

    Education and the education of our children are in the best interests of this country. Stop and think what a lack of education will mean before you make the claim that poorer districts have no more legitimate right to the same amount of funding as the richer school districts

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