Attempt to level learning field

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By Thomas Sass


In a capitalistic society, even education becomes competitive, and competition determines the “winners” and the “losers.” Therefore, a system had to be devised in order to manipulate those outcomes.

But, in this arena, it has become an unfair zero-sum game whereby the “winners” are provided advantages and the “losers” are disadvantaged. This system is exacerbated by decision-makers who populate each category with whatever subgroups they decide are deserving versus those they decide are not. These outcomes are then reinforced by making students take the same standardized tests.

This current system, while unfair to certain subgroups predetermined to be less than those who are advantaged, is better than when only upper-class white males were similarly advantaged.

One problem is that some politicians, for political/social/economic leverage, have made two words associated with the situation in Iowa City into four-letter words to be wary of: busing and diversity. Neither of these relatively benign words is accepted as being worthy or necessary by at least one political faction and thereby help to inflame emotions in those with whom they hold sway. Even The Gazette, initially, framed this as a “busing” issue.

But those who seek to further divide us have, in my opinion, ulterior motives, foremost among them to ensure that the same levels of educational enlightenment are not available to all. Why else would anyone seek to continue an unlevel

educational learning field?

If we are to continue to live under a competitive system, then all students must have access to what they need to learn. If that means ensuring all teachers have minimal measurable knowledge about subjects they teach, that students are from various economic levels within each school/class, and that all schools have similar numbers of students, so be it. The current system is not fair.

To those who oppose what some in Iowa City are attempting to achieve: Imagine your kids deliberately placed into disadvantaged situations, knowing that others are placed into advantaged situations, and then watch as your kids are forced to take the same standardized tests. Would you not do everything within your power to get your child into a better learning environment?

Pay a little more now to achieve a semblance of fairness or suffer much more later.

Thomas Sass of Iowa City, retired from Pearson, is a student of history and has authored a book about the treatment of blacks in this country. Comments:

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