Public Education: A Conspiracy?

As I was reading John Dewey’s chapter titled “The Democratic Conception in Education” in his book Democracy and Education, I thought of my own experience with differing educational environments. I started thinking almost like a conspiracy theorist as I noted the differences of my home high school, to a high school that I am currently working at in a disadvantaged neighborhood. Dewey addresses the purposes and possible motivators behind public education when he comments that “Rulers are simply interested in training as will make their subjects better tools for their own intentions”(6).

I grew up in a middleclass suburban neighborhood and my high school although not the best was definitely not bad at all. We had access to technology, brand new computer labs, smart boards, and there was definitely a college bound mindset throughout the school. Now when I compare my high school experience to what I observe at the high school that I work at, I see a very different picture. The facilities were not as new or high tech, lesson plans did not seem as organized, and it seemed as if the students had a more difficult time. Now there are many ways to interpret why this happens. Going off of Dewey’s idea in the previous paragraph, one could surmise that perhaps the government or society is more inclined to invest more in students who live in well off neighborhoods because these students could be groomed to help society and the government (work in politics, technology, science etc.). And on the other hand, the students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds could be seen as a waste to invest in because these such students could not do in a political or “high society” type environment. In fact these students are groomed for perhaps another need. Perhaps there is a perpetuation of poverty. Perhaps the government needs this poverty… because without it who else would rally the people during political conventions, who else would politicians be able to use in order to appeal to the pathos of the masses. I’m not saying that I support that these theoretical advances are true or right, I’m simply just thinking about a possibility surrounding the current situation of public education.


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