I am told by Modern Educators that we must seek a Return On Investment for educational dollars spent. I am not moved.
Don’t get me wrong. I am sensitive to the public’s concern that bucks are being burned, funds flushed down the crapper, which is why the public should be ensorcelled into budget review teams that act to bring the community in to the school budgetary process in a real way, while relegating the demagogues to orations in cemeteries.
But I am not impressed with the argument, now actually being repurposed by the likes of Robert Reich and Bill Moyers, that some people only need so much education, the apparent neo-liberal liberal arts education. Where, oh where, you might ask, did the concept of an education free to the student through post-secondary study flee? All around the country we hear a new chorus; we need to train for employment.
I think it’s great that a student learning Math can count out change (though opponents to so-called New Math, when confronted with the actual instruction that explains how we count change, oppose such instruction…), but I am not sending that student to school so he can work the counter at McDonalds.
Reich and Moyers will get offended and argue that they just meant that “college isn’t for everyone”, but isn’t that a nice apologist howdy-do. It amounts to a declaration that college is only for those needing a college degree to get a job. And there we are – education as a tool of capitalism. We want to educate you so that we can exploit you.
Yes, I would like to see everyone hold a fulfilling job that provides a living, and I am certain that a good education would contribute to that, but that does not mean that I want to make serfdom priority one. I want our children to have greater compassion and comprehension, to be able to walk in another’s shoes and see with another’s eyes, to know the universe as awe-inspiring but as no object of fear. I want our children to share, in the most fundamental way, in all that we can offer as a species. I want to share with them the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which is the original blessing…
I am not looking for a return on investment when I educate a kid. I look at it as a foolish waste of money, an act of total caprice, a whimsical misadventure; all these being some gesture of faith in my species, no matter how unwarranted that faith may be. Piss on the bean counters. Piss it forward.