Originally Published by Deb Meier on April 28, 2013
The continued existence of democracy, much less an even stronger one, is what is in a crisis. The “school crisis”, along with many others, is a distraction. Just a symptom of the more serious crisis we face. Schools are simply one of our many institutions that are under attack. The very “idea” of democracy is being undermined over and over again–and its not easy for me to see how we can put humpty-dumpty together again. Because it’s democracy that is the real basis for the idea of accountability! “Throw the rascals out” is where it all begins. But “accountability” is now being used as a tool to undermine democracy!
The democracy we have experienced for several hundred years was pretty thin at it’s start, and began slowly to take on some flesh—as more and more of us were included, viewed as members of “the ruling class” with a right to make decisions about our future. But on every front we’re losing ground: voting? Clearly between gerrymandering and media consolidation and huge spending by rich individuals, corporations and foundations (so-called) the decks are heavily stacked against “us”. For perhaps the first (or 2nd?) time in our history the people’s vote for Congress is not reflected in who got elected to represent us. The number of low-income and black citizens who are now in jail make a mockery of democracy–and deprive millions of their right to vote. And the campaign to restrict voting further continues. (No country comes close to having as many of its people in prison!) And on and on.
I remember….when people said that our “exceptionalism” was due to our unusually large middle class, our social and class mobility, etc. These are not true anymore. We are lower on the international lists of mobility, care for children, income and wealth inequality than almost all OECD countries. Thank god for Russia and Mexico–who did even worse. In comparison, US schools look pretty good!!!!