JAM Views periodically stresses the paramount importance of strong public education, and specifically economic education, for building and protecting capitalistic-democratic societies. Without strong educational systems, the elites and the entrenched government authoritarians always rule the proletariat. Throughout history, control of education and the money supply have been the two essential components for ensuring the haves remain the haves and the have nots do not get an opportunity to rise through the caste system.
In the United States we are fortunate to live in one of the freest societies on Earth, but we still allow entrenched norms to control our pursuit of education. Let's address a few significant issues:
1. Jason Riley, who writes the Upward Mobility column, frets that all the public school's recent progress and reforms have lost much of their steam because "the same (people) who obsess over inequality and statistical disparities also fume at education reforms that have helped narrow learning gaps and thus led to better life outcomes for underprivileged groups in general." New York City's previous Mayor, Bill de Blasio, wanted the NYC top-ranked public schools to replace their merit-based entrance exams with a quota system. Why? Two simple answers:
a) Minority students from the city's charter schools are admitted to the top high schools at twice the rate as their counterparts from other city public schools, and
b) Asian-American students are awarded more than 50% of the slots even though they comprise only 16% of the city's public-school students.
Charter schools are wildly successful. Don't let the legacy self-interests try to convince you otherwise. Yet, they are rabidly opposed by teachers' unions because they pull money and power from the establishment (How come JAM Views Posts continually expose that everything is always, only, about the money?). It's as simple as that. We allow the country to keep the poor and majority of the middle class virtually uneducated in order to protect the aristocracy, with it all disguised as helping the underprivileged. There is no greater crime in America.
For nearly a decade, I lived closely with men of little to no formal education. There was almost no chance for them to rise and compete with the elites. All programs, speeches, and billions of dollars in funding meant nothing for them, because there was no strong education at the beginning. Instead of stopping charter schools and merit-based testing, we need to multiply these schools and ideologies onto every street corner in America. Seth Andrew, founder of Democracy Prep, stated it best. "If the city had more high-performing charter schools, the specialized schools would be dramatically more diverse." Sadly, just in NYC the charter-school wait list now exceeds 50,000 children. The consumer always knows the truth. Econ 101.
2. A JAM Views reader from California commented earlier on our Post about the Asian-American discrimination suit against Harvard University, questioning, "Why do you support the Asian-Americans so much?" I found that to be quite an interesting observation, as I actually don't know many Asian-Americans. But I certainly would like to know more, because I believe our reader simply mislabeled what I am attempting to promote. What JAM Views "supports so much" is merit-based systems, equality of opportunities instead of outcomes, and outsized rewards for those who give outsized efforts.
Kay Hymowitz reported in the City Journal that the great majority of NYC Asian students come from a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn where Chinese immigrant parents "have crammed themselves into dorm-like quarters, working brutally long hours waiting tables, washing dishes, and cleaning hotel rooms." Instead of using this life as an excuse, "Asian kids read more books, watch less television, and study longer. In poorer families, money goes toward test-prep, instead of $200 sneakers." This is the true American Dream.
3. Finally, I want to highlight another positive step forward in balancing the scales of opportunity. Anne Tergesen has written, "States are now turning to financial-literacy programs to educate teens before they form bad spending and payment habits, hoping to save taxpayers money over the long term by reducing public assistance, including Medicaid. Nineteen states have now implemented financial literacy requirements before students receive their high school diploma. They must be JAM Views members!
Of course, many academics are protesting these requirements for taking away time from other studies. Don't they understand this is the most important study? Without it, the rest will be meaningless! If you have no job, nor home, nor savings, you will not likely be attending Madame Butterfly at the Met. Owen Cole, a high school senior in Kentucky who also brings home $600 a month from Chick-fil-A, decided after taking the courses to attend a local community college for two years before transferring to a four-year state university in order to avoid a heavy load of student loans. He said, "After finding out the costs, I knew the extra spending might hurt me later in life." We should all listen more to Owen.
Education is everything. Financial education is the most important. Anyone who doesn't believe this is merely supported directly, or indirectly, by someone who does.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stuart Mill