Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Fixing Education, Finland Style

Basic education (K-12) in the United States is a mess. 

As I mentioned yesterday, it started unraveling the day that Brown v. Board of Education was announced. From that day forward, people (you know which people I'm referring to) have been chipping away at public education. Promoting private schools, trying to reduce funding for public schools, throwing hissy fits about what these schools can teach, etc. 

The problem, of course, is that by trying to diminish public schools, you wind up with two school systems: private schools for the better off, and public schools for the worse off. The private schools wind up with more money and resources, because they're privately funded.

That means poor kids, who go to worse schools, are less likely to have opportunities to advance in their lifetimes, and will be more likely to need social programs for assistance, which--ironically--the same people who caused the decline of public schools also oppose. 

Look, let's just rip off the band-aid. The reason public schools have been steadily sabotaged in the last 60+ years is because many white people don't want their children going to school with black and brown children. Or, at least, not the "wrong" black and brown kids.  

Like I said yesterday, America was built on separation. 

Besides the reprehensible racism, what makes this particularly sad is the well-established body of research supporting the theory that kids of different races mixing freely in childhood leads to better outcomes in almost every way for the children involved. Less discrimination and more empathy, in particular. 

I'm depressing myself as I write. I wonder if there is a simple way to solve this?

Well, ask Finland, where there's no such thing as for-profit basic education (7-16 years of age). The small number of private schools (below 5%) receive government funding, but they teach the same curriculum as the public schools. 

That's not so complicated, is it? 

If everyone sent their kids to public schools, everyone would have a reason to want the public school system to be as good as possible, instead of tearing it down. Private schools wouldn't be able to hoard the best teachers, either. Children of all races would go to school together, which would produce better outcomes for emotional intelligence.

It would fix all kinds of problems, which means it will never happen. Not here, at least.

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