Education is Under Attack in the USA

© Josh Sager – February 2015

An educated population is a vital resource to any developed nation (if not a requirement for a nation to become developed).

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On the individual level, there are numerous benefits that come from educational achievement. More educated individuals tend to make more money, live longer, and have greater career achievements than those who have less education. These individual benefits translate to societal benefits, as more educated societies tend to be healthier, more productive, less violent, and more likely to produce technological progress.

Unfortunately, the modern American right wing has become stuck in a mindset where education is derided and, where possible, defunded or privatized. The meme of the “ivory tower liberal elite” competing with the “common sense conservative” has created a justification for large portions of our nation to see education as something that is not only unnecessary, but a threat to their established ways of life and “traditional” morality.

The political justifications for these attacks are three-fold.

First, statistically speaking, the more education a person receives, the more likely it is that they will vote Democratic (Case in Point: only 6% of scientists are Republicans, while 55% are Democrats) thus there is a political incentive for the right wing to reduce the number of people who have access to higher education.

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Second, education is expensive and cutting education is a convenient way to cut budgets so that taxes can be reduced (or budget gaps can be filled).

Finally, the right wing is heavily reliant upon interests that promote a rejection of factual reality (ex. polluters force them to reject climate science, religious zealots require them to reject history, and libertarians require them to reject economic reality) in favor of a world that conforms to predetermined ideological conclusions—this rejection is far easier when large portions of the population are unable to recognize that they are being lied to.

Here are a few examples of these attacks on education:

In his 2015 budget, Scott Walker cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin’s funding while demanding that they keep providing the same services and quality. When asked to explain how this is possible, Walker replied by saying: “Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work and this authority frees up the [University of Wisconsin] administration to make those sorts of requests.” In short, he wants them to work more, for less money, and demands this of them while suggesting that they have just been lazy in the past.

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Currently, the Oklahoma legislature is in the process of eliminating all advanced placement classes on US history because they think that those classes are teaching “anti-American rhetoric,” including the realities of slavery, the Native American genocide, the separation of church and state and the injustice of the Jim Crow era. In short, they are trying to eliminate the history curriculum for failing to be jingoistic and “pro-American” to the exclusion of our country’s real history.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has proposed approximately $100 million in public education cuts in order to help fill a massive budget deficit created by the income tax cuts he has championed for the past few years.

Several years ago, the Texas Republican Party changed its platform in order to officially declare its opposition to teaching students “higher order thinking skills” and critical thinking skills. They justified this by saying that teaching thinking skills would undermine parental authority and challenge the beliefs of the children (almost certainly referring to their religious beliefs).

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In his inaugural 2015 budget, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced a $75 million dollar cut to the state education system, part of which was to pay for a new private prison that state law-enforcement officials are opposing as unnecessary.

Put simply, these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The Republicans have launched attacks on the American education system on virtually every level of government—from local school boards and state governments all the way up to the federal legislature. While no single attack is likely to cause critical damage, the totality of these attacks will subject our education system to a death by a thousand cuts.

If the American public doesn’t start to push back against this anti-education campaign, we will continue to fall behind the rest of the developed world in terms of education and will eventually lose our competitive advantage in high-skilled markets. Americans will gradually become little more than cheap laborers, living in a consumptionalist nation and swimming in debt.

12 thoughts on “Education is Under Attack in the USA

  1. Pingback: Education is Under Attack in the USA | The Beacon

  2. Education is a weapon that RWNJ cannot compete against, so they rig the system to provide people who aren’t taught to question what they are told. They prefer people who will follow whatever they are told, provided it fits into their worldview.

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  3. I agree. With the advance of technology more and more in the classroom, there has been a decline in education. Machines can never do the job of good teachers. As a mentor teacher observing classes, I have seen a student’s presentation be “on hold” in the middle because the technology broke down. Instead of being prompted by the teacher to continue his talk giving information, the presenter and the whole class just sat there with nothing to do except talk among themselves while a couple of people tried to get the technology going again. The Common Core seems to be doing more harm than good. I applaud the student who said, “I have a pen and paper and a teacher. What more do I need?”
    I am afraid that perhaps we are moving back towards the philosophy once pertaining to women:”Keep them ignorant, barefoot, and in the kitchen.” If they are ignorant, it is easier to sell them a bill of incorrect goods.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Sunshinebright and commented:
    If many more states follow the path of cutting education funding as those mentioned in this blog post have done, our next generations of “educated” students are going to be the most poorly-educated ones in the world. Third world countries only wish they had the educational opportunities that Americans have had in the past. At the rate stipulated in the post, many states won’t have to put the their children’s education on high priority and won’t have to do anything to increase the caliber of their educational curricula; their state education departments will receive kudos for their “excellent educational institutions” by default.

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  5. What better way to insure control remains with those already in power than to limit what can be taught to children? The very ability to think critically and question authority is no doubt one of the first casualties in this war on education.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Education is the great liberator. If nothing else, I can read to explore the world, different cultures to develop a love of learning which never ends. This is gift that keeps giving, inspires the imagination and creativity. Our children are being robbed!!

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  7. These frightfully disgusting displays against education we are seeing are brought to us by the Koch brothers, et al. A snowball effect, that continues rolling along, as ignorant voters applaud the ” we don’t need no education” philosophy, and continue to vote the devil back into office – who in turn rewards them with fewer and fewer means to understand what they’re doing to themselves.
    One of many examples:
    http://www.kenoshanews.com/news/americans_for_prosperity_throws_its_weight_into_kenosha_unified_school_board_race_476239373.html

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  8. An educated populace is considered dangerous by some folks. Educated people learn to think for themselves and not rely upon self-styled political and religious leaders for guidance and instruction. Educated women, for example, are less likely to get married at a young age and less likely to have more than two children. That frightens a lot of conservative men. In the past, a lot of conservative Whites – male and female – were frightened by the prospect of literate Indians and Negroes. Some still are. That’s, in part, why voting rights are under attack again in the U.S.

    Those of us who know how to read more than the Christian Bible and a TV guide pose a serious threat to the minority of wealthy and powerful elite. My beloved home state of Texas has descended into a morass of right-wing ideology. But that’s because the majority of Texans don’t vote. Texas has had one of the lowest voter turnouts for decades. But, last year, the state topped out as the single worst in terms of voting rates. If you look beneath the crimson surface, you’ll find plenty of level-headed folks who just shake their heads in disgust when clowns like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz open their mouths. The Texas board of education has been especially helpful in making us the laughingstock of the nation and the world. They keep trying to instill Christian doctrine into text book standards, while downplaying the evils of European colonialism and the African slave trade.

    It’s not just embarrassing; it’s disgusting. But, then again, if more people made it to the polls here, we wouldn’t have this problem.

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