How do we get them ready?
Well over half of our local and state tax money goes into the cost of public education. Why do we invest so much of our money in that one expense? Very early in our nation’s history it was determined that education was a necessary community cost to provide an educated informed electorate to make democracy function.
Now we are engaged in another great civil war. Testing, yet again, whether a nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. How long can we go on hating the “other” and expect our democracy to survive. Make no mistake about it, humanity and our country have a very long history of hating and attempting to purge the “other” dating back to the original Americans, our native Americans. Abraham Lincoln toyed with the idea of sending enslaved people back to their land of ancestry. We pretended we did not notice that most of those people were now born in the U.S. In the earliest 20th Century we pitted the Irish against the Italians, and barred female Chinese from coming to this country in the hopes of reducing the number of Chinese in our country. During WWII we removed native born Japanese Americans to detention campus because we didn't trust them. We were fighting the Germans too but German Americans weren't locked up because they looked a lot like the rest of us. We have institutionalized discrimination again women, Jews, African-Americans- you name a group and we have hated them. We have not stopped until the present day. Currently the Muslims are up for discrimination. We have a government that is intent on targeting our differences instead of our similarities.
The problem is that presently our country is approaching the tipping point of becoming a majority minority nation. Our public schools are already there.
So, what are we going to do about how we educate our kids for this new reality. How do we get our children ready to live together in understanding. Failure to achieve this basic goal will tear our democracy apart. The primary purpose of the taxpayers financing education is to facilitate the functioning of a democracy. We need to get back to that.
What do we need to do? Every high school student should have a course on understanding our nation’s diversity. Kids that go to one dimensional schools should be given experiences with the “other”. It is hard to hate people you have had a burger with or solved a problem with. Familiarity does not only breed contempt, it can also forge understanding and the others' perspective.
Younger children should be allowed to accept differences in others. If we do not teach them to hate and fear early on, who knows they may not when they get older.
Our nation will survive failing algebra skills it will not survive failing understanding and empathy for each other. No less than our survival as a nation is at stake if we do not get our children ready to take over as the next generation of leadership.