9.5. Fixing Education

9.5. Fixing Education

There’s a separate, unequal pathway for kids from affluent families—and a pathway for everyone else.

Our educational system started out with so many hopes.

It was going to create a nation of educated citizens.

It was going to allow every child to reach their full potential.

It was going to provide opportunities for even the most disadvantaged kids to succeed.

Let’s just say it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

As I mentioned in a previous video, the size of our educational system has exploded over the past fifty years.

We have many more people, with many diverse, special needs, spending many more years in our educational system than we used to.

And yet, at the same time, since the 1980s, funding for public education has been slashed to the bone.

It’s a vicious cycle. Because without more funds to cope with these overwhelming needs, public education will continue to struggle. And then those struggles will be used as justification for even more spending cuts.

Also since the 1980s, the costs of attending college have exploded.

Nowadays, having a college degree is pretty much a requirement for kids to even have a chance at economic stability as an adult.

Colleges know this. And they’re taking full advantage by jacking up the prices.

The result, of course, has been a generation of kids who have either missed out on the opportunities afforded by a college education…or who have gone into six-figure debt just to get it.

Neither the underfunding of public education nor the explosion of costs in higher education really affect kids from affluent families.

Their parents can put them in private schools, and pay for their college education without accruing enormous amounts of debt.

Meanwhile, in those well-funded, well-equipped private schools and prestigious universities, those affluent kids are pushed hard.

They start out with advantages. And then they use those advantages to gain even more advantages, so that they end up way ahead, by the time they go on the job market.

I know. Because I’m one of those lucky kids.

I’m one of those kids who went to great private schools and prestigious universities.

I have three college degrees, including a doctorate—and not a single dollar of debt.

I can tell you, from my own experience, that there’s a separate, unequal pathway for kids from affluent families, like me—and a pathway for everyone else.

And it’s completely unfair.

I think everybody deserves the same quality of education I received.

But that won’t happen until we actually fund our educational system so that it can handle the quantity and diversity of students it has to handle.

That won’t happen until we stop colleges from price-gouging an entire generation of Americans, so that they have to choose between diminished opportunities or crippling debt.

That won’t happen until we start treating a quality education like a public good to which everyone is entitled, instead of a commodity that only the wealthy can afford.

That’s how we can turn our lofty hopes for our educational system into a reality.


This is the 145th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.