The great divide Part 1: Education

Children in a kindergarten classroom in France

Children in a kindergarten classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’ve been thinking over the current situation a couple of things have been jumping out for me about the great divide in this country. The first is about education and all the voting demographics I’ve seen that put the majority of college educated people in one camp and the majority of those with high school level or less in the other.

Which has me pondering education in general, here and in the world.  Ruminating about the “educate women” movement which has been building force for some years now.  It’s aimed at countries where lots of people — particularly women — don’t have access to any education, so the situation is a little different.

But the studies supporting the “educate women” idea show that when women are educated in a society, the tendency to extremist views that exclude portions of the population, give rise to xenophobia or lead to militancy and/or genocide, …, etc. is reduced.

Now most people in this country have access to some amount of education, but we’ve been sliding downward in the world and the schools in poorer areas are generally underfunded and competing even less well.  And it seems different levels of education are producing a big gap in views of inclusiveness versus exclusiveness, etc.  Some of the same kinds of issues being addressed by the programs for educating women elsewhere seem to exist here too.

So the thing that’s been spinning around in my head is:  why are we willing to donate millions of dollars for charitable programs to educate women in other countries, but in this country instead of helping everyone achieve a better education, I just see people calling the under-educated “stupid” and dismissing them???

No wonder so many people feel disenfranchised.  With a lower level of education and a dissimilar cultural experience, they understand the world in different ways and are written off for it.  I don’t really see anyone on the political horizon who’s interested in working on education as a means of bridging the divide.

Maybe it’s a place for new ideas.  Thinking outside the box.  Since the new administration is planning on cutting funds for education, the answer needs to come from outside the government as the public school system will probably get worse.  Anybody have some great proposals to equalize the education playing field?  An educate-the-girls foundation to launch?  A partnership to propose to the Gates Foundation?

Any ideas about healing the great divide instead of widening the gap?  Instead of getting mad how about getting to work on some new plans?