“I’d rather see the others.”
“The ones who make it.”
– Octavia Butler. Kindred
All societies are concerned with educating their members. All are preoccupied with their skills and knowledge development perceived to be indispensable for survival and productivity. Thus, one of any society’s main goals is to carry on customary societal standards, train people for societal roles, and assign them with specific societal positions. And let’s not forget, all societies are attentive to embedding in all members an allegiance to the social system. In many countries, such as the United States, educational institutions are a main mean for achieving this. “See how easily slaves are made? (Octavia Butler. Kindred)”
And then it happens that debate arises. For instance, most politicians interested in the institution of education focus on the structure of the system, including the functions performed, the roles played by the various groups and individuals involved, the processes operating within the system, and the pressures from other parts of society that influence the system. “Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of ‘wrong’ ideas.”
Of primary concern is the role education plays in providing the opportunities we have in society. Thus, some politicians raise questions regarding the lack of equality in educational opportunities. Many argue that opportunity is not equal for all who pursue education, and that we lose many “productive citizens” in the process.
Likewise, questions of who gets what training and for what kind of positions come forth for debate. Competition for entrance into what are considered “good schools” and “top universities” is keen, as education – in most countries – is viewed as key to a better life and more opportunities. Some assume that if we change aspects of the system we can start to remedy the limited access for so many to exactly that: “a better life and more opportunities”. Others see a need to change the whole social structure before we can begin to work towards reducing any kind of inequality.
Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a crucial query for those that take time to wonder and speak up is why the dominant groups in society still have educational advantages over marginalized groups, and therefore a lead in the job market and income earning capacity. “It was dangerous to educate slaves, they warned.”
As we listen and analyze the proposals of all candidates, we should consider questions like the following: What causes inequality in education? In society? What are the consequences? What solutions do all candidates propose? What am I doing?