A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thank a Teacher!

One day, when I was on time (aka early) to early morning Seminary, my very conservative teacher asked me what I would do if I was elected President. By this time, I think he had probably realized I was a crazy liberal. Without much thought, I responded that I would defund the Defense Department and put all the money into Head Start. For those of you not familiar with Head Start, it's a program to help educate low income children before kindergarten.

Now that I've had a lot more time to reflect on my answer, I think the principles remains the same. Most of America's discretionary spending is devoted to the machinery of warfare and destruction. Wouldn't it be great if we spent that money instead on educating children and investing in their future? Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying we should stop spending any money on defense or national security, merely that we spend too much on these things. We could reduce the amount spent on defense and use that money to provide good schools to every child, not just the children who live in rich areas with good public schools.

Right now, public education is a very unequal system because it gives a really good education to the few, a moderately useful education to some, and a really bad education to too many. Part of the reason for this has to do with taxes. Property taxes are a big source of funding for local and state government spending on education. This means that areas where rich people live, which have high property values, have more money to spend on education, while poor areas with low property values become part of a reinforcing cycle of poverty. Money isn't the only factor determining education outcomes, but spent wisely I think it can certainly have an impact.

If we had a nationalized school system, we could even out some of the disparities in spending and help low income students achieve better. Ideally, public education can be (and should be!) the great equalizer - it can teach children how to read and how to love learning. In high school I took a calculus course. Now I can't remember any calculus, but I think that class and other well taught classes taught me how to learn, and I can apply those skills to learn the things I want to as an adult. Today I had to read through some IRS guidance to get an answer for a client and I think that part of the reason I'm able to do that is thanks to the work of good public servants who taught me to read and process information.

So, to quote a bumper sticker, if you can read this, thank a teacher! And for no other reason than that I once watched this in school, here's a great Schoolhouse Rock video:

"Conjunction Junction," Schoolhouse Rock

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, the spending disparities between neighborhoods is terrible. The Supreme Court almost made doing that unconstitutional in the 60s, but couldn't quite get there :(

    And love that song!