Friday, October 18, 2013

Some Speed Blogging, October 18, 2013: On Education in the US

I had to travel last weekend and into late Tuesday.  Not having had much of a real break (even snakes need them), my writing well is running on empty of energy even though there are important topics to tackle.   Perhaps early next week...

What's fascinating about traveling inside the US is that one skips from culture to culture to culture, even over shorter distances.  This is not really one country but a large chunk of a continent, and even houses and streets and nature look different between the lunch stop and the dinner stop en route.  To take a more extreme example, Louisiana and Massachusetts are two different countries in everything but name.

And that diversity may be the reason why the politics in the US is so very violent in tone.

Some of that "diversity" is visible in this article about the percentage of poor students in the southern and western parts of the United States.  I'm not an expert in judging studies about education, but it is certainly true that funding schools largely from local property taxes exacerbates existing income inequalities and passes them on to future generations, and if the majority of children live in poorer areas getting the future workers (including teachers, physicians and nurses) we all need may become more difficult.  I have long advocated compensatory funding:  More money should go to poor areas.

But the paradox of "diversity" that article reflects is perhaps in the fact that the winning political party in the southern areas of the United States is not interested in spending money on education.  Very sad, because they are eating their seed corn by ignoring the long-term negative effects of short-term tax savings.