The corporatism of the American education system
From textbooks to test prep to tuition, the price of education is soaring higher and higher.
Many college students today are graduating saddled with thousands of dollars in debt. Students who attend law, medical, or business school often have to spend decades of their life trying to pay off their student loans.
Money has a huge role to play in individuals’ access to educational resources.
Some classrooms in the US are supplied with SmartBoards and projectors and more advanced technology while other classrooms struggle to find the funds for basic textbooks and classroom supplies.
And certain “non-profits” profit from this entire system.
Does the name “Collegeboard” sound familiar? It probably should, considering you had to pay them to take the SAT. And again to fill out the CSS profile.
And if you’ve studied for this test, you’ll be familiar with names like Barron’s, Kaplan, the Princeton Review…
If you drive around Cary or New York City or wherever you choose to go, there will be tutoring companies that offer afterschool tutoring services. In South Korea and Taiwan, there are companies that serve as “prep schools,” where kids can be babysat and encouraged to study outside the classroom.
The time and money parents spend on college prep and test prep classes is kinda crazy, if you think about it. Or paying for their children to attend higher quality private schools with more sufficient resources.
When I worked at Carolina Friends School, I saw how the system there was so much better than the public school system. And it was a private school that was selective about the students they chose to admit.
From a very young age, we’re often taught that to get anywhere in life, you have to jump through hoops. That there’s competition no matter where you turn. That you have to try and gain other people’s approval through arbitrary rules and expectations.
Maybe that’s an inevitable fact of life. But you have to realize that the systems we have now aren’t serving us properly.
As someone who hopes to enter the public sector, who wishes to dedicate her life to becoming a public servant, I’ve come to realize just how much money plays a role in everything you want to do.
Money is what opens doors, more so than education.
My Duke tuition was more of an entrance fee into this elitist, exclusive network of people.
And my upper middle class lifestyle permitted me to become the “well-rounded” individual that Duke was looking for.
We poured so much time, money, and energy towards my education to get me to where I am today.
And lucky for me, I don’t have to deal with debt. The only debt I have is to my parents, who’ve shown me love and made sure I was fed and clothed every day since I was born.
But I realize my reality is very different from others.
There are people out there who don’t know when their parents will be able to put food on the table. People who don’t have access to WiFi or public utilities. Who don’t have “doors to open” because they don’t even know those doors exist in the first place.
I’m tired of seeing our government spending so much on defense instead of education. On spending money to combat enemies of our own making, ones we made by interfering in other countries’ business with the shining promise of democracy. (Even though we’re clearly an oligarchy, but I won’t say any more about that.)
I’m tired of seeing teachers scramble to put their paychecks to use to buy extra pencils, paper, pencil sharpeners, staplers, hole punchers, folders, binders, and so much more for their students.
I’m tired of seeing funding get withdrawn from schools that are “failing,” simply because their test scores aren’t high enough.
I’m tired of seeing inequitable dollar-per-student spending across different districts in the US.
I’m tired of seeing how society has placed such little monetary value on education, which can determine someone’s future financial and mental well-being.
I’m tired of jumping through hoops, signing forms, and trying to win the approval of my superiors so I can advance to positions of power.
I’m tired of seeing parents who desperately want the best for their kids and pour so much money into prep schools and classes and whatnot.
I’m tired of seeing all this reproduce class differences and more socioeconomic disparities in society and recognizing that I’ve been subjected to the same impulses as everyone else, that I’ll likely fall for someone who’s in a similar SES category. That if I date someone who’s of a lower SES, people will give me weird looks and question my decision.
I’m tired of all this and more.
And I want to change the system from within, but I don’t even know if I have the heart to do so.
When I see how people spend all of two hours on a decision that profoundly affects the life of a child. How children become “cases” instead of humans who are growing and learning just like all the adults are. When I see how grown-ups more and more seem like people who had to destroy their inner child and wonder and fascination with the world to pander to the masses, to please where the money comes from.
I’m tired of all that. And I don’t know if I want to enter the education system again after all this.
But maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I just need to be a little more patient.
Or maybe there’s something that’s gone very, very wrong with the education system in the US.