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November, 2006

Vision and the Fight for a New World
This column is a place for revolutionaries to debate why a cooperative society is a practical solution to the problems people are fighting out. We welcome your thoughts about the articles we are running and we welcome your articles. You can view all articles at here. E-mail info@peoplestribune.org or write: People's Tribune, P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654

Education in a cooperative society

BY MIKE BRAND

Throughout the US, poor students are systematically deprived of education. Hundreds of thousands of students who live in poverty fail to become educated. It was recently reported that large numbers of high school graduates cannot do college-level work. Community college graduates are often barely literate and high school students are far worse off. At one Baltimore high school, only 3 percent of the students could pass the simple required state test in math and only 8 percent could pass the English test. Sadly, these results are not unusual among students from poor neighborhoods throughout the country. Millions of poor youth are uneducated and unprepared to function in society. Why?

Official explanations blame combinations of students, parents, teachers and schools. Education is held out as the way to escape poverty. When poor students fail, their continued poverty becomes their own fault. What a lie! Rationalizations and 'edu-babel' abound. But, neither teachers, students, parents nor education administrators can make the education system work. We support their efforts to do what they can to improve education delivery, but they are constrained by the system within which they work. The problem is greater than the way things are taught. It extends to the system of private property, itself.

So, why do poor kids get such low scores? One reason is money. "Money talks" as the saying goes, in education like anything else. Just ask Bill Gates. His Microsoft Corp has designed an ultra-modern high-tech high school for a few hundred poor kids in Philadelphia. It's cost is $84,000 per student, considerably more than the amount spent at a normal public high school! The hundreds of thousands of students not chosen for this experimental project will go without, unless a fight is waged for their right to be educated. That fight must be carried out. Our children deserve no less. If Bill Gates' school is worthwhile for some, then it should be demanded for all.

That struggle must be waged but it will not solve the problem so long as students live in hopeless poverty which, of course, is growing. The reason is that education is not a social isolate. It is connected to the economic environment. Students cannot eliminate the effects of poverty on education without eliminating poverty itself. In a cooperative, prosperous society based on human need rather than maximum profit for the corporations, education would break out with wonderful effects on the students and all of society. After all, our youth are intelligent creative people. Removing the barriers to education would result in a fully educated and cultured population. Art, science and culture, mathematics and poetry would all flourish. We would become a dynamic intellectual place, more and more exciting to live in. We can only imagine the boundaries which would be crossed. It is certainly an exciting society to work for.


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