There is a popular saying that "the proof is in the pudding." In the first part of this article set, my colleague Mike Margeson spelled out the historical roots of the American schooling system. He clearly laid out the blueprint that men like Horace Mann used to build a system that does anything but "educates." Factor in that trillions of dollars have been spent on schooling, and it makes it even harder to justify.
A Broken System
Yet we continue to hear the "Red for Ed" crowd scream for more funding. Here in the state of Indiana, the superintendent of public education is leading an assault on the state legislature for a meager 2 percent increase in state funding. Many educators are characterizing this as a decrease in funding! In no other walk of life would we continue to pour so many resources into a failed system. If you had any doubt about this after reading Part One, let me present you with some facts.
Gatto laid out a compelling case of how and why schooling is meant to keep citizens ignorant.
In what was one of many fiery speaking engagements, the late John Taylor Gatto delivered a line that has resonated with me as I have studied the effects the public schooling system has on children. In this particular speech, Gatto was recounting the story of Jaime Escalante, the educator who successfully taught calculus at Garfield High School in Los Angeles yet was forced to resign.
As he finishes describing the trials and fate of Escalante, Gatto explains that above racism and other forms of bigotry is the embedded idea that what really occurred was a deliberate attempt to stop genuine learning. Earlier in the speech, Gatto laid out a compelling case of how and why schooling is meant to keep citizens ignorant. This success at an inner city school was not going to be tolerated by the establishment. He implored his listeners to understand the real problem and to quit "fencing with shadows."
Flushing Money Down the Drain
So what does this mean? Throughout history, compulsory schooling has consistently been viewed as not only progressive but also in need of reform. The most common method of reform has been to throw piles of money at the problem. According to the Department of Education's (DOE) website, the DOE spent an estimated $69.4 billion in 2017. Compare that to the initial $2.9 billion ($23 billion adjusted for inflation) budgeted under the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 1965.