How did we ever get here?
Once we realized that higher education was as important as basic (K-12) education, once we realized that not all could achieve higher education, that perhaps not all even should, and that it should be paid for not by all but by only those few well off enough who could afford it (or with great sacrifice, might be able to), for those who could suffer for it to happen when others had to suffer nothing for it, then we most definitely started that long decline back to being less than we had once become, once we had realized just how important education for all really is.
You got that, right? Because if you didn't, read on. If you did, well...you already know what I'm going to say. Right?
Those who could afford higher education, and even many of those who couldn't, started into the mindset of wanting more for their child than they had or their parents. It began their striving to find the money to get them into the best schools possible in order to eventually get into a college or university at all, or to gain entrance to the best of those possible.
That...led to a disparity and a gap opened. A gap we see daily in misunderstandings of government and politics of what is real and unreal or fake, of who the "enemy" is, and what is the best interests of each and every individual person. A situation that has mired us in nonsense and given our for profit news a platform for confusion and raking in money. All based on our ignorance and our desire to be more knowledgeable and wise than many of us are.
Once that mindset became ubiquitous or nearly so, that gap widened. As the financial disparity grew between the wealthy and the poor, between the middle class and either of those others, the belief that we had individually a need to find a way for our children to attain higher education, rather than everyone attaining it, then the situation grew ever more ominous.
Until finally we find ourselves here and now. With a situation where we wonder, just how did we get here?
People started to seek out the best of charter schools, rather than supported public schools. "Remove my child from public school so they get a "good" education at a "good" school," became the mindset of far too many.
We need to support public schools so that they are the best schools. We need to make them all free, so we can enhance the intelligence of the American citizen, be they rich or poor. This is not about who can earn and should deserve education, but about our country, bettering itself.
This is not socialism as the rich suffer upon us to keep those down, remaining down. It in fact sounds very familiar to the old Tom Crow laws to keep ex slaves down. It is something that has not gone away but become inculcated into mainstream society and government.
We have dumbed down our citizens. Which is sad as with the media and Internet situation, the easy access (for most) to knowledge and shared ideas, we should be the most intelligent country on the planet. And yet, we are not and we are continuing to slip down the ladder of education.
We should not be so much less than them, than those with money, without concerns about where the next month's rent, electricity, food or even water will come from. Where can there even be a consideration in that situation for a child's education?
There cannot. But that seems to matter nothing whatsoever to those who "have", for whatever reasons. Reasons of being born into a wealthy or well off family. Reasons of being extraordinary in mind. But we need to raise up not just the special, because of money or intellect. We need to raise up all our citizens. We are all Americans in this country, not just the select few. Selected by family wealth, or luck or destiny.
Just as was discovered when we made K-12 grades free, free and compulsory because it affected not just citizens individually but the nation as a whole, we now need to make them good again. And because of advancing technologies and a world evolving out of the industrial age, higher education beyond those basic levels needs to be made as free and available to everyone. Not because it is easy, but because, as Pres. Kennedy said, it is hard.
And it is the right thing to do.