The main propose for today’s U.S school systems according to many Progenitors of the American Education Institution, is to put an end to economic inequality. Horace Mann wrote over a century ago “The Great Equalizer.” Horace states, “Education, then beyond all other devices of human origins, is the Great Equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery. It does better than to discern the poor of their hostility toward the rich, it prevents being poor.” According to what Horace has stated this great equalizer, education, can put an end to poverty.
The question parents, students, teachers, tax payers should ask why haven’t the American Education System (or great equalizer) put an end to economic inequality? Why haven’t the “Great Equalizer” (American Education) put an end to poverty and many social issues which have matured and progressed from over a century ago? Or is the “Great Equalizer” the “Great Illusion?”
There are many experiments like the Hollingshead study that shows a relation between students from different social classes. The fact is that the majority of students after school and employment, remain in the same social class in which they were born. In today’s world there exist a growing gap between the rich and the poor. Also, if the truth be told, the education institution is not filling the void. Horace Mann also mentioned in 1842, in a report to the State Board of Education, “The great majority always have been and probably always will be comparatively poor, while a few will possess the greatest share of this world’s goods. And it is a wise provision of providence which connects so intimately, and as I think so indissolubly, the greatest good of the many with the highest interest of the few.” From this statement it seems Horace Mann must have never believed in the Great Equalizer or has stated a Great Contradiction. He openly admits the majority always been and probably remain poor and should support and be happy for the capitalist who exploits him, and hoard the majority of the world’s resources.
The capitalist can only maintain his wealth if the working class (majority) cooperate by yielding their labor power to capitalist production. Horace Mann must have come to his senses, seeing how impossible it would be for the education institution to be an economic equalizer in the American System of Capitalism. The sole purpose of all capitalist is to maximize profits, by maximizing resources, and paying the lowest wages possible. Capitalism focuses on the prosperity of the individual not the whole, which leads to the exploitation of the masses for mass production. In other words, to support capitalism is to support economic inequality.
So if economic equality is not the purpose of the American Education System, then, what is the agenda? American education roots are in the American economy. The American economy as we know it today is an offspring of the Industrial revolution, which begun to strip economic power altogether from the working class people in the nineteenth century. “By 1890, almost two thirds of all economically active people were employees. Family farming continued to lose ground to large-scale capitalist agriculture and to manufacturing; simple manufacturing gave way to production involving complex interrelated processes; an increasing fraction of the labor force was employed in producing services rather than goods. The small shop gave way to the corporation employing thousands of workers. Domestic, craft, and entrepreneurial production were giving way to the corporate capitalist sector. Self-employment workers and entrepreneurs constituted a third of the economically active individuals in 1890 and only a fifth in 1930. In a few critical industries-steel, for example, a handful of giant firms predominated.” (Bowels, 1977
Capitalist corporations, because of machinery and the division of labor, had high productivity, which produced low costing commodities. This cause extreme competition for the common Workmen and artisan, and eventually robbed many tradesmen of their craft altogether. (for ex. research the textile industries). The majority of the people were reduced to wage slavery or unemployment. The people then began to see one another as competitors, and viewed his fellow neighbor as a threat to his/her wellbeing. Others banned together and formed Labor Movements, strikes or workers class parties to resist the forced Serfdom. These groups proposed a opposition and problem for capitalist corporations. Therefore men such as Theodore Edson and Kirk Boott (textile capitalist) capitalized on an idea to control workers, provide training, and mainly to exploit an ever increasing amount of labor from a permanent workforce. The goal was achieved by getting rid of community ran schools, and implementing the transition with the forming of so called public schools. The schools were for the sole purpose of drafting a permanent work force, for the factory system and to further separate the workmen from his craft with the division of labor. According to the text book, American Education (9th edition), Joel Springs wrote, “Arguments for the school’s role in socializing for the workplace can be found throughout U.S History. In the nineteenth century, schools emphasized marching, drills, and orderliness as preparations for the modern factory, lining up for class as well as marching in and out of the cloakroom and to the blackboard were justified as training for factory assembly lines.” Goerge Boutwell, who succeeded Horace Mann as Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, summarizing the views of employers interviewed during his visit in 1859, wrote: “In Lowell, and in many other places, the proprietors find the training of the schools admirably adapted to prepare the children for the labors of the mills.” (Bowles, 1977).
We can clearly see that in the eyes of capitalist, humans are looked upon as raw materials (or A.K.A. Human Resources), an object, thing or tool exploited, for their own benefit and gain. Now that private education is being pushed by major corporations, CEO’s like Bill Gates, a supporter of American Education, public or private, is nothing more than indoctrination mill and breeds a corporate army to keep up with supply and demand with education “inflation”. We can see that the capitalist does not lose a dime even when he supplies more than he needs, but an oversupply of trained workers brings surplus capital into his hands.
“The ideal situation for hiring is a larger pool of applicants that will allow business to pay the lowest wages and select the best worker. Obviously, the situation does not help the worker. For example, in the 1950s, business put pressure on the schools to educate more scientists and engineers and by the late 1960s there was a surplus of scientists and engineers, causing low wages and unemployment. This situation worked to the advantage of the employer (capitalist) but not the employee (workers).” (Spring, 1992).
Therefore the American Education System was created due to capitalist production and mainly a need to exploit a permanent workforce, not to end economic inequality, but to continue it. Since the majority of the world’s resources and wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few (Capitalist Corporations), the majority of the working class no longer are able to receive their basic needs from the earth, but have to sell their labor for food, clothing, and shelter, due to the loss of the means of production to industry. In order for capitalist to continue exploiting the masses they are always in an uproar for technology that will increase production, drive down wages, and increase unemployment (the reserved army).
So schools provide the basic need for a trained labor force to adapt to the new technology and fulfill the need of supply and demand for the Capitalist Corporations. The American School System justifies the inhumanity of poverty and economic inequality.
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