I was standing at my kitchen sink doing dishes the other day when I happened to glance up and notice that on my new plastic (made in China) outside thermometer there were tiny little letters at the line marking 32 degrees. On closer inspection these tiny letters turned out to spell “32’ freeze”. Now I know, for sure, that our public education system is failing. And I also know that this is due largely to an ongoing effort by conservatives to keep the population ignorant and compliant. They have been doing this since the 70’s by getting folks elected to local school boards. Good people but ones who believe Adam was the first man and he lived 4000 years ago and 7 days before that the earth was “without form and void”.
So I ask you have they really dumbed down the American public to the point that people do not know that 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which things freeze? I guess the Chinese believe this about the American public. How happy they must be. We have become our own worst enemy. Raising and educating a generation of people who can in no way compete in this high-tech world because we don’t even know basic chemistry and physics. Let alone have the knowledge, wisdom and foresight necessary to solve the pressing problems of the world today.
Even well-informed, educated people have not been taught by the public school system to have an inquiring mind (if I can borrow a phrase from the pop culture I so deplore). Take for example the wealthy woman who was complaining about the cost of local garlic. She could not get past her own parochial needs for cheap goods to see the point that importing cheaper garlic from Mexico was wrong on so many levels. Carbon footprint, workers rights, fair pay for produce and producers, supporting local farmers. Her mind was not prepared to make the connection. Her education had failed her. Her under developed sense of inquiry led her only as far as: this costs more and I don’t want to pay more. She is not alone.
And don’t even get me started on home-schooled kids. From what I see in some, but by no means all, cases home-schooling your child is largely about wanting to have total control over what your children see, hear, read, and think. No inquiring minds for them. A majority of these parents have the afore-mentioned limited public school educations so some, and again by no means all, of these kids will get little or no exposure to the classics of literature, the theories of quantum or string theory physics, the music of Beethoven, or the writings of Karl Marx. They are, for the most part, being taught from curriculums developed by evangelical idealogues who believe….well see paragraph one. None of them will have the joyful experience of having their 5th grade teacher walk into the room on the first day of school and to write the word OBSERVANT on the board. This happened to me. She then turned to the class and said “If I don’t teach you anything else this year I will teach you to be observant.” Thank you, Mrs. Bowden, wherever you are.
My own son struggled with school. He was just too mouthy. (Wonder where he gets that from?) He was a square peg and those round holes of sameness were not for him. He ended up attending a small private high school that did something wonderful for him. It made him think, and read, and discuss and ponder. He is very likely the most well-read 24-year-old you will ever meet. He writes very well and he can carry on a conversation with just about anyone about just about anything. A true renaissance man. In spite of being at least in part a product of our public school system.
So what is this all about? The Republicrats got it right 40 years ago. Occupy the school boards and you rule the world. You can get your creation myth taught right along side Darwin and there will be no mention of Marxist theories of environmental protection. You can keep your guns because your teachers won’t make you actually read the constitution. You will never have to answer the question what “well regulated militia” are you a part of? You can believe that life begins at any point. You can believe that people of different colors really are somehow fundamentally different. You can believe any half-assed, cockeyed thing you want to believe because no one will ever question you and they certainly won’t make you question yourself.
The Occupy movement is many things. Something different to almost everyone you talk to. One of the things I think it should be about is occupying local public office. Run for and get elected to school boards, select boards, county commissions, even the state legislature (that’s where school funding comes from for the most part). And seek to halt the downward spiraling of our public education system. We have public education because it is a common good. It should be educating our populace to be good citizens. One’s with inquiring minds. Ones that want to be dazzled by the brilliance of their leaders not baffled by their bullshit.
P.S. I know I should not be buying cheap plastic junk from China. But it was what was available at my local hardware store. And besides it led to this really good post so some good came out of it.