My friend wrote me a nice note about this, and it really is something I believe in hardcore, especially the bottom. Since I posted it on Sunday of last week some readers may not have read it, some I'm re-posting it.
It's a rare occassion that I do this, but I think the end is really where it's at.
Don't know if you noticed but the NYTIMES now displays what the 5 most emailed articles from their site to others are, and on top of today's list is a column by David Brooks.
Brooks is one of two conservatives writing for the Times Editorial page these days (the other John Tierney), and can be seen almost nightly on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. He's a pretty decent guy, and occassionally speaks out against President Bush's policies. When he does it's mostly about the little things, and not about the Iraq War, or things that matter too much. For conservatives it's fun to do the little things to make it seem as if they're moderate.
This is why I find Brooks' column about Karl Marx's "Manifesto" to be so surprising. He's speaking about the biggest thing: education. Bush's education policy has been nothing short of bad, and conservatives favor "competition" at every turn to improve schools. Brooks is one of those conservatives.
In his latest piece he comments about problems both democrats and republicans/liberals and conservatives have, but it seems to me it's more about conservatives than liberals, with that tiny bit of liberal blame, again, to make himself seem moderate.
Cutting to the chase, Brooks focuses on poorer people remaining in lower classes and vice versa because the poor don't have access to better education, and the wealthier don't make moving up any easier. It's completely true, and always will be. Where I find fault is with Brooks' solution to this problem (none really offered, but I know his stance). He represents a group of people who fight against affirmative action programs, higher spending on education, and for for-profit schooling.
Yes, there are too many failing schools in America. That's a problem. There shouldn't be any at all. The answer isn't to close failing schools, bus kids to their "choice", and pressure teachers to do a better job (although, that's not the worst thing). The answer is taking the education system by the reigns, giving states options, but more control, and the most important thing: MORE MONEY!
Do you know how many times I've heard jackasses on David Brooks' side say, "We continue to throw money at the problem and we're getting no results! We need competition!"? Too many times to count. That's really the most ridiculous and annoying comment in the game. If someone needed medicine to help cure an ill, and all the person had was half the money to buy half the medicine the person would never become healthy, and most likely would become more ill over time. Essentially, that's the "throwing money at the problem" Republican argument. I would agree, that is, in a sense, a waste of money. Luckily, for a few people, they seem to make do with the medicine they have, overcome their ills, and succeed. They become the examples Republicans use to push their ideology. It's the perseverance argument.
Solving the class and education problem involves spending A LOT MORE MONEY on public education, and when there are failing schools we shouldn't close them, but FIX them.
Fortunately for me I went to schools in a town where most people were educated, and the town was generally middle class. The school was practically private, and most all competed to be really good at something. If there were 40 kids in my Physics class it wouldn't have mattered. The class was always in control because the parents had control at home.
The town next to me, assuming they even had Physics, if there are 40 kids in the class it's going to be uncontrollable. That's just a fact. Lower class, more poorly educated parents, and children with bigger problems than most of my classmates ever had results in children no better than what they came from. Many of these children came from tough homes.
Since my school could handle the standard 30 kids in a class that's how many should be in the class. But in school systems that cannot handle large classrooms there should be half the amount in any class, and maybe even a teacher's aide to keep control. This concept that all school systems get equal money, and are treated equally is flat out retarded. We're not equal.
The system is unfortunately set to fail with liberals asking for more money for schools, and conservatives pointing to the failing children and the one who persevered to prove their points. Obviously, most conservatives don't care about the failing children, or the starving ones, so they compete with the liberals over the issue. What results is the sick person who only gets 50% of the medicine, which from a conservative perspective on "class" is really just fine (at least in the back of their minds).
Of course, not paying triple (or more) for education only results in more problems, which inevitably results in the creation of more social programs to fix the problems. Now being that people like George Bush and Senator Rick Santorum want more public money going to Faith Based Initiatives this is probably all part of their bigger plan to get everyone on the Jesus Train in the end...kidding...but am I?
I'm not some super champion of all the oppressed, poor, starving, hungry, and mistreated, but my heart is certainly in a much better place than the people David Brooks supports. It's comical to see him write a piece about these issues. I do what I can, and would like to see others do more, which is why I do this.
When liberals, especially the wealthey ones, advocate for the poor and downtrodden conservatives love to laugh. They think it's funny that Susan Sarandon is so wealthy, but acts like she's poor, or that Ariana Huffington drives an SUV, or some stupid bullshit like that. It's always the easy road for these people. They're busy pointing out supposed hypocrisy rather than doing anything themselves to solve problems I, or David Brooks, talk about. It's easy.
Those who have bigger hearts and more concerns are pushed into a position of seemingly being out of touch with the peoples we advocate for because of conservatives. Just because we advocate for the poor, sick, old, etc. doesn't mean we have to be those people. We realize it doesn't take much to do a lot more good, so we advocate. A liberal shouldn't feel bad about owning 3 houses and a Porsche. A liberal should instead feel rewarded because she, or he, has done the right thing, and deserves to reep the benefits.
No skin will come off my back to triple the education budget and fix the problems. It wouldn't even make a noticeable dent in the wallets of almost every person, but we don't do it. Why? Because it does take the skin off the backs of the conservatives who want to keep the classes just as they are.