Does education empower us to be our own mind or does education stifle our personal growth? This question is reviewing to see if education is aiding students into becoming successful adults or if education is aiding students into becoming immature adults that can not think for themselves. The true meaning of this question is that students are either benefitting from school or are being hindered by their school's education. Michael Moore, a cinematic activist and an Oscar winner, wrote Stupid White Men ... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! to rant about how there is not proper funding for the American public education system, which causes this system to be terrible for everyone's child. John Taylor Gatto, an award-winning educator and libertarian, also responds to this prevalent question by explaining how America's education is a factory that trains the children to be shaped and fashioned. Jonathan Kozol, one of the country's chief educational activists and social reformers, also responds to this question by explaining how the schools for lower class people are being neglected and forgotten.
Since ignorant politicians cast aside education for funding, the American public schooling system must desperately go to the corporate world to attain enough funds for the children. Michael Moore states that the schooling system is corrupt because over forty million Americans are “functional illiterates” (Moore 122). Also, our nation keeps spitting out illiterate students that expose their own ignorance and stupidity. George W. Bush, one of the presidents of the United States, exemplifies an illiterate citizen that hardly ever reads anything, which is very bad for someone that was the commander in chief of our nation. Also, Moore states that politicians are the reason for the downfall of education because they would be more interested in going after MTV, which causes him to despise politicians even more because he knows most of them would not be able to score over a fifty percent on a simple pop quiz that he created. Some characteristics that display the downfall of public education are “overflowing classrooms, leaking ceilings, and demoralized teachers” (124). Also, in 1999, one-fourth of public schools had one building that were unsafe/inadequate. Another reason that causes Moore to be furious is that Bush cut federal spending on libraries by around forty million dollars, which is a tragedy for a student that already has a disadvantage at their neglected school compared to a student at a private school. Another way the American public education system is terrible is because schools are teaching students to “regurgitate answers the state wants them to give,” which causes students to be the opposite of their own individual (136). (Moore 121-139)
John Taylor Gatto and Michael Moore's responses are similar in that they both agree negatively about America's education, but Gatto communicates about the purpose of schooling, while Moore argues about how politicians caused the downfall of education, and how public schools are neglected. Gatto explains that the main purpose of schooling is broken up into six functions. The first is to establish authority without any original reactions from the student. The second is to make everyone be the same, which makes them very predictable. The third is to determine a student's social role based on grades. The fourth is to force students to learn everything based on their social role, and nothing more, which does not allow students to be open to growth. The fifth is to eliminate the runts out of the pack of students. The sixth is to teach a small number of students on how to take care of our population, and to make sure that these functions cycle to the next generation. He argues that these functions were deliberately designed to create “mediocre intellects” with deficient “leadership skills” that will be “docile and incomplete citizens” (Gatto 145). Also, Gatto argues that homeschoolers were notorious to becoming successful because they were not products of a school system that inhibits their growth, and their maturity. Andrew Carnegie, an American businessman and philanthropist, embodies Gatto's argument because he made an enormous fortune in the steel industry with only a homeschooler's education. Also, Gatto advocates that marketing targets children and addicts. This is pertinent because schooling has turned children into addicts full of emotions of “greed,” “envy,” “jealousy,” and “fear,” which makes it easy for corporations to make an easy profit (148). (Gatto 141-149)
Jonathan Kozol's response is similar to Michael Moore and John Taylor Gatto's response in that they all agree negatively about America's education, but Kozol's method is to expose all the negative surroundings in the public school system, and that schools are still racially segregated. Kozol advocates that public schools that were segregated are still segregated because in 2002, ninety-four percent of children in Washington, D.C. were black or Hispanic, and nearly three quarters of the students in New York City were also black or Hispanic. Another example that illustrates that there is still racial segregation is that schools named after honored leaders of the racial equality fight are mostly attended by blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians. A well-known high school named after Martin Luther King Jr. exemplifies racial segregation because this school is in an upper-middle class white neighborhood that was built for the belief of integration, and the people that attend this school are blacks and Hispanics who could not obtain admission into more successful schools. Also, Jonathan Kozol talks about the gloomy conditions that many students must tolerate. One kid's letter talks about how they do not have “clean things, clean bathrooms, and parks” (Kozol 206). One high school in the South Bronx, has a stream of water flowing down their main stairwell when it rains, and has green fungus mold growing in the counseling office. Also, libraries, physicians, Music, Art, and many other aspects of a school are nonexistent in large numbers of public elementary schools. These conditions are affecting students causing them to feel that are not valued (Kozol 201-218).
These three influential people answer the relevant question responding that they all agree that education does stifle our personal growth, but they all agree by talking about different aspects of education. Michael Moore talks about how politicians will not give the funding for education for America's children. John Taylor Gatto shows how the purpose of schooling is to turn children into servants. Jonathan Kozol lists all the unfavorable surroundings that the children must endure, and he talks about how schools are still racially segregated.
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