Of education and underwear
November 16, 2001
Did you see it? I am sure that citizens all across the state were glued to their couches staring at their television sets. A great television event graced prime time.
No, not the Victoria's Secrets "fashion" show. I'm talking about the docu-forum, "All the Children of All of the People", on SCETV. If you did not see it, you should have.
You did not need to see it so that you could learn something new about what it will take to fix our system. The education came from learning more about the processes that go on in the minds of our state's educational leaders. The experience was not pleasant.
The first part of the program delved into the past of education in South Carolina. Okay, this documentary actually kept my attention. It divided the history of education in South Carolina into several eras starting in the 1600’s.
Rather than go through the history again, let’s just focus on the recurring theme: money. This theme showed up over and over again during the over 2 hour program. For instance, speaking of the early part of this century the documentary pointed out that the illiterate farmers felt it was the parents responsibility to see their children got an education—not the taxpayers. These money-grubbing tillers of dirt were one of the reasons South Carolina was unable to arrive at the educational utopia sought by the forward thinkers of that day.
Now, once again, the same tactic is being used. Why are we unable to obtain the goals the educational experts have set for us? The answer, according to what we learned last night, boils down to the fact that there are an elitist people who do not want "all the children of all of the people" to get a good education. These people are more interested in padding their own pockets than they are on helping disadvantaged students living in rural areas.
Throughout the program the moderator kept mentioning that education in our state is "at a crossroads." Never did I hear exactly what the choices at this intersection happened to be. It appeared to come down to a choice between funding and failure. However, what is the catalyst that is causing us to look down one road or the other?
Ah, then the following article appeared in The Greenville News this morning. "State panel threatens Greenville school funding" the headline read. It now becomes a little clearer. We are about to be accosted by a publicity/political campaign that seeks to berate us as being like those illiterate farmers mentioned in the documentary.
Oh, there were other things as well. Social programs, school-to-work (check out the opinion on the editorial page of the Greenville News), and more await us—if only we will fund it. We will fund it if we really care about all the children of all of the people.
I have seen the future of education in South Carolina—and it ain’t no supermodel!