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Nicothodes

My classmates terrify me

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This semester I'm taking an entry level sociology course. The teacher is fairly good, the readings depress me, all in all normal for this sort of class. However, my classmates terrify me.

 

The first class this semester the majority of my class argued that while the portrayal of gender roles is exaggerated in the media, it's not a big deal because all women really do want babies, and the media will train them how to take care of said babies. Somehow I suspect that some of these people will eventually receive visits from Child Protective Services.

 

Anyways, discussions got less blatantly awful until Thursday's class. We were discussing articles about how the school system has re-segregated along race and class lines, and except for two other people and me, everyone said that as long as the schools were getting equal resources, it didn't matter. I feel as if our classroom is in a time vortex.

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You mean some women don't want to be housewives with large hips and well-exercised loins? Shocking! And isn't the media the best source of any information in the world?

 

I'm really starting to look into colleges. It sounds like you've found one that will get a big red X.

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Actually, the fact that people *here* are stating opinions like this is what shocks me. My school is known(when people have heard of it, that is) for being extremely liberal. My best guess is that people everywhere pretty much suck and that my tendency to hermit has protected me from this fact.

 

EDIT: Though if you've gone all the way through high school, I'd recommend applying to other schools anyways. While the academics here are very strong, the average age of entering students is 16, and it gets very irritating to be surrounded by 16-year-olds who are convinced that they are geniuses.

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I'm not sure the segregation issue is something that can be resolved at the school level. It's a 'natural' tendency (i.e. people live around similar people). Giving a school extra money to bus in a specific demographic isn't an ideal solution.

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The desegregation process in schools is a tricky one. It's necessary, but there are many obstacles such as property taxes being used to fund schools, transportation, and resentment from people based off of inconvenience. Even city-wide magnet schools are dependent on the students having access to the resources to do well in their previous schools, and/or training in a certain field(for the magnet schools that admit based off of skill in the arts). If my classmates had said "fixing this will be hard, and I'm not sure exactly how to do it," I would have no problem with them. But they said that it doesn't matter, and regressed to pre-Brown vs. Board of Education ideas that education could be both separate and equal.

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Some people, mostly idiots, don't want to associate with others outside their social, religious, racial, or economic groups.

 

I'd be more worried about a professor that encourages that type of thinking unless the students can back up those statements with real proof and not their personal feelings. Separate, but equal rarely occurs in the real world.

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Quite so. Even if we assume for sake of argument that 'separate but equal' isn't intrinsically problematic, the fact remains that the reason for separation tends to be one of racial antipathy, which both historically and theoretically has a very strong tendency to affect distribution of resources, especially if one racial group has a disproportionate share of political power.

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Yeah, "de facto" racial (and, perhaps more importantly, economic) segregation in schools is definitely in the category of "a complex problem that I don't really have any idea how to fix."

 

But denying that it's a problem in the first place is irresponsible, and letting students get away with it without putting forward the obvious counterargument — the issue is not so much whether people get an equal education at one school vs. another, which in theory they could but in practice they don't, but that de facto segregation perpetuates the idea that we're all just fundamentally different, which is problematic at best — seems irresponsible of the professor.

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This semester I'm taking an entry level sociology course. The teacher is fairly good, the readings depress me, all in all normal for this sort of class. However, my classmates terrify me.

 

So, you've got these classmates giving bizarre and morally bankrupt propositions, but what are you saying in response? After all, if you are one of the few in the class to know that these statements are way outdated and no longer viewed as correct, then it should be your obligation to object to them.

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"Oh man, that guy's gonna start talking again. Class always takes an extra 20 minutes once he gets started. Why can't he just keep quiet..."

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I have been, and there have been a couple of other people saying sane things as well, and the teacher has been asking discussion questions about these historical events and whatnot, but somehow it's not sinking in.

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Unfortunately, if people want to be stupid and bigoted, there's nothing you can do to change that. You can keep trying to educate them if it helps you cope, but you aren't obligated to do anything for them. A lot of the problem is probably that they're 16, been told they're smart, and have led relatively sheltered lives and so think they know everything. Hopefully, some of them will snap out of it before too long.

 

Dikiyoba.

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My question is, what kind of college lets 16 year olds in?

 

(Weird)

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My college was started on the idea that some students are ready for greater challenges earlier, and making them wait until they're done with high school to start college is a waste of their time. Some students here did go all the way through high school, but they are very much in the minority.

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My college was started on the idea that some students are ready for greater challenges earlier, and making them wait until they're done with high school to start college is a waste of their time. Some students here did go all the way through high school, but they are very much in the minority.

 

I don't agree with skipping grades. There's a lot more to school than academics. If the current grade structure has any meaning, nobody should be allowed to skip grades.

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My question is, what kind of college lets 16 year olds in?

 

Meh, I went to college at sixteen. It was even one of those 'leet ivy-encrusted ones. smile But then again, our alums included Dr. Seuss, Mr. Rogers and Cpt. Kangaroo -- I kid you not -- so perhaps youth seemed not so foreign there.

 

Hopefully by the time those students make it through school, they'll have all of their assumptions challenged, and they'll begin to work through the ways in which they are working to reinforce necessary identities* rather than to question them. Four years can make a world of difference.

 

*( I highly recommend the Walker book: http://tinyurl.com/3qoerjh )

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I don't agree with skipping grades. There's a lot more to school than academics. If the current grade structure has any meaning, nobody should be allowed to skip grades.

There *is* more to school than academics. I enjoyed high school -- I was a music geek, and a drama geek, so I had a crowd of friends who weren't just "brains." But college -- oh, my heavens, the freedom, finally, of being surrounded by other kids who were also the 'smart' ones, of being able to breathe, finally, and take on new identities: it was exhilerating and freeing and life-giving.

 

Noone should deny that to kids who are yearning for it, especially not over some rigid bureaucratic concept of age-driven grouping.

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My college was started on the idea that some students are ready for greater challenges earlier, and making them wait until they're done with high school to start college is a waste of their time. Some students here did go all the way through high school, but they are very much in the minority.

In my experience, college was a lot less flexible than high school and more challenging for all the wrong reasons. I don't know why anyone would want to go there early, or even at all.

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Four years can make a world of difference.

 

That's a good reason to complete all the grades in highschool.

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I don't agree with skipping grades. There's a lot more to school than academics. If the current grade structure has any meaning, nobody should be allowed to skip grades.

The problem with discouraging skipping grades is bored students. Bored students are not good students. Poor students don't get anything academically--or otherwise--out of school. Many college drop outs were drop outs because they never had any need to develop study habits--coast, coast, coast. If skipping a grade challenges a student then that is a very good thing.

 

If a school has a good program for the gifted then that is great--most do not. I greatly regret having parents and a school system that kept me from skipping one or two grades.

 

As for the OP, look up the definition of sophomoric and you'll figure out what is wrong with your classmates. Most people outgrow it.

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That's a good reason to complete all the grades in highschool.

 

I actually *did* that, VCH, *and* was in college at 16. But four years of learning to give only half of your attention to any problem, so as not to do too well at it and thus be socially unacceptable -- it took me twenty years to unlearn that. Forcing one solution on all kids isn't the answer.

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I think there are arguments for both sides. On the one hand, I was bored out of my skull by the end of high school (I went to college at the usual age, i.e. 18), and that was both unpleasant in itself and led to the problem of coasting that you describe. It probably didn't help that my high school was very easy and my college difficult.

 

On the other hand, most students I know who came to college early had serious problems. Some withstood the trial by fire and came out stronger for it, some took time off and came back at a more standard age, some dropped out or worse. Sometimes it was a lack of study skills and preparation for the level of work, sometimes it was failure to deal responsibly with their new-found autonomy. While this happens to people who enter college at 18 or later, and I think there are 16 year olds who are more mature than most people at 18, the fact remains that almost all the people I know who entered college young had some sort of problem that at least seems like it could plausibly be related.

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But four years of learning to give only half of your attention to any problem, so as not to do too well at it and thus be socially unacceptable -- it took me twenty years to unlearn that. Forcing one solution on all kids isn't the answer.

 

Being both well-liked and intelligent (That's what people tell me, anyways. I have serious reservations about using the adjective at all, but for the sake of simplicity, I'll ignore them for now. You know what I mean, I hope.), as well as 16, I have never found that to be the case. The social outcasts that I know/have seen are not (as far as I can tell) appreciably smarter on average. Just weird and (perhaps obviously) socially inept.

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Well, it also depends on the high school in question. Due to illness putting me way behind in my music classes, I had to switch to a school that had such low standards that I was told by teachers to keep class discussions simple. In addition to a lack of challenge, I was harassed by my fellow students for my political views, which the administration ignored even after my parents complained. The only other school available to me was the neighbourhood school, which was known for being even more out of control than the one I was in. Sure, with a good high school, you can stick it out for the four years, though getting bored and lazy is also likely(I know I did), but I think it's important that it's not the only choice. What most of the students at my school seem to forget is that they are not smarter than average. My school accepts students mainly based off of the interview and admissions essays. The academics and workload here is very challenging, but the admissions department looks more for a student's willingness to put the effort in than whether he or she is a genius or not.

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The social outcasts that I know/have seen are not (as far as I can tell) appreciably smarter on average. Just weird and (perhaps obviously) socially inept.

 

Agreed, being smart doesn't make you an outcast.

 

I actually *did* that, VCH, *and* was in college at 16. But four years of learning to give only half of your attention to any problem, so as not to do too well at it and thus be socially unacceptable -- it took me twenty years to unlearn that. Forcing one solution on all kids isn't the answer.

 

The way I approached that, was to do well on tests, assignments, etc, but not act like an egotistical know-it-all.

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The social outcasts that I know/have seen are not (as far as I can tell) appreciably smarter on average. Just weird and (perhaps obviously) socially inept.

Agreed, being smart doesn't make you an outcast.

More importantly, being an outcast doesn't make you smart, either. Nor does being persecuted make you correct, but that's a rant for another time.

 

Besides, all the really smart people I know are actually quite good at social interaction- charming, funny, and warm. I'd be willing to bet lots of money that's mainly a facade they're putting up for the benefit of others, but if so, then they're exceptionally good actors.

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here is another anecdote of terrible people in a sociology class that you may find enlightening, courtesy of alec

 

(warning: language)

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And isn't the media the best source of any information in the world?
Of course it is! If you don't believe me, just read the Onion! :p

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Despite the fact that protesters often get dismissed as young idiots, I think there's a certain tendency for teenagers to defend the status quo, whatever it is. Whether they realize it consciously or not, the status quo is what they are soon going to inherit, so they want to believe it's good. Likewise old people have an inherent tendency to be pessimistic: they prefer to believe that what they're losing isn't so great.

 

But if your classmates scare you, Nicothodes, maybe you can take this as an opportunity. A lot of liberal shibboleths are taken on faith by the faithful, you know. Maybe they're all true; I think at least some of them are. But being surrounded by people who don't parrot all the right things is a good chance to sharpen your own views. How do you really know most women don't want to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? What is really wrong with separate but equal? Check it out and pin it down. Whatever does not turn you into a right wing nut can only make you stronger.

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Whether they realize it consciously or not' date=' the status quo is what they are soon going to inherit, so they want to believe it's good. Likewise old people have an inherent tendency to be pessimistic: they prefer to believe that what they're losing isn't so great.[/quote']I'd question this. I think what you are saying makes sense for preadolescents and for adults who know they are approaching death (whether or not they are "old"). But outside of those circumstances, teenage rebellion is an eternally and globally well-established trope, and meanwhile, the further you get from puberty, the more set in their ways, and views, many people get.

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True, young people may be happy to seize on some aspect of the status quo to reject. But they won't let any authority figure conscript them into the previous generation's crusades. That's the flip side of teenage rebellion. Teenagers will shrug off an awful lot of things that their parents' generation wants them to decry.

 

Conversely, I think the rebellion is the flip side of youthful complacency and optimism. If you really thought the whole world was terrible, you'd be much too scared to stick your neck out. To be a teenage rebel, you have to believe that everything would be fine if it weren't for just a few stupid problems. That's why it's going to be easy to fix those problems, and why it's so urgent to get on with that.

 

Likewise, you don't have to be at death's door to be old enough to perceive that your window for ruling the world has closed, that you're not going to be able to achieve everything you want. The natural temptation that sets in already in middle age is to exaggerate the difficulties, and minimize the opportunities that you have missed, so that you have less to regret.

 

I'm trying to be even-handedly cynical. I think that youthful optimism and the pessimism of age are both instinctive, and that instincts are based on solid, practical facts. We idealize what we still hope for, and minimize what we have lost.

 

In fact I believe that people can achieve great things, and mark the world for the better, at ages young and old. I just think it's really hard, and that your odds of doing so successfully are better if you can learn to recognize some purely instinctual biases, and take them into account.

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I'd be more inclined to think pessimistic people don't reach for something new. Instead they cling to what they have until you pry it from their cold dead hands.

 

It might not be all they'd hoped for, but they sure as hell won't let you replace their medicare with 'socialized' healthcare. smile

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I'm with Lt. Sullust on this one: while there does seem to be a connection between old age and pessimism, it's more the kind of pessimism that idealizes the 'good old days' than the kind of pessimism that looks to radically alter the present social order.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
here is another anecdote of terrible people in a sociology class that you may find enlightening, courtesy of alec

 

(warning: language)

Dead link. Also, dead site.

 

—Alorael, who misses getting an Alec-style rant. It might even make him *frumple*.

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Ideological diversity in a sociology class is something to be desired, don't you think? We say we want diversity and tolerance; preferring the company of your own kind is for those horribly evil bigots, right? I've changed my opinions on many subjects back and forth over the years, so I tend to criticise ideas rather than the people who support them.

 

I'd say the fashion of supporting (or at least pretending to support) identity politics is fairly typical of the educated middle class where I live, and the more left-leaning US of A states seem to be similar regarding this. Your terrifying classmates' parents grew up in the 1970s, mostly (presumably their parents are also disproportionally middle-class, ethnic majority and well-educated), so guess what teenage non-conformism would be for them.

 

Did your classmates really claim that all women want to have children? Why didn't you just provide a single counterexample?

 

As for segregated schools, do you have anything to offer to the majority? Do they benefit from your state-imposed egalitarianism? If so, try to explain it to your classmates. If not, why should they indulge in self-sacrifice and self-flagellation? Because of collective guilt for perceived historical injustices? Or just to be considered 'intelligent' by left-wing radicals, perhaps?

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Originally Posted By: Non-Hamiltonian Physics
Originally Posted By: Lilith
here is another anecdote of terrible people in a sociology class that you may find enlightening, courtesy of alec

(warning: language)

Dead link. Also, dead site.

—Alorael, who misses getting an Alec-style rant. It might even make him *frumple*.
Huh. I was able to read it yesterday. Quick summary: Alec goes to a Psych 101 class, prof shows video of the Milgram experiment, class laughs.

Reminded me of when I saw Watchmen in the theatre. What do I remember most about that experience? The scene where Rorschach dumps boiling grease on an inmate's face. Not the scene itself, but the audience's reaction. They laughed. Louder than the sound of melting skin was the sound of laughter.

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Last time I checked, our species just got through the 20th century. Are you telling me that there are people out there that still believe that humans are essentially noble and good?

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Pretty sure the protection of minority rights and interests goes farther than 'left-wing radicals.' Unless you're proposing that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is a product of the radical left. Granted, the founding fathers were pretty uneven in actually carrying these ideas out, but the fact that they enshrined them among the central tenets of American government and ethics says something.

 

To put it another way, ensuring that minority groups have equal rights (into which category desegregating schools certainly falls) is a pretty unambiguous good. How does it benefit the majority? First off, that shouldn't matter. I may derive no immediate benefit from not being legally allowed to rob my neighbor, but that doesn't mean that laws prohibiting theft are an unethical assault on my rights. I also derive benefit from the fact that my neighbor can't legally rob me. Even assuming I have security guards who protect against theft and my neighbor doesn't, there's no guarantee that this state of affairs will continue. Similarly, majority groups do not always remain majorities, and even if it is not in their immediate interest to provide minorities with equal rights, it will certainly be so if their majority status slips. If one wanted to be idealistic about it, one could say that the primary purpose of law is to create a situation in which the powerful can't simply take what they want, as in a Hobbesian state of nature.

 

Finally, while I'll admit that I think some types of identity politics miss the point, do you seriously believe that desegregation qualifies as "self-flagellation" on the part of white people?

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To be fair, when you know something is fake you're likely to react differently.

 

For example,

You may or may not find that funny. I do. However, if I were to see that happen in real-life I would not find it humorous.

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Originally Posted By: Lt. Sullust
To be fair, when you know something is fake you're likely to react differently.

For example,

You may or may not find that funny. I do. However, if I were to see that happen in real-life I would not find it humorous.

The Mentos theme song makes that deliberately absurd. It's different from the examples above, which were supposed to be shocking.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Last time I checked, our species just got through the 20th century. Are you telling me that there are people out there that still believe that humans are essentially noble and good?
Oh, of course not; sorry for giving you that impression. However, I assumed that humans want to appear essentially noble and good.

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I think many people go along with whatever the politically correct view point is at the moment, without putting thought into whether it's right or wrong. Just because the majority, or sometimes the most vocal among us, support a certain viewpoint, doesn't make it right. And like Alex said, it’s a good thing that your Sociology class has some differing viewpoints, because that will forced you to think about why you believe certain things.

 

I find that the same holds true for science. It’s easy to become complacent about a particular theory, especially older more entrenched ones. But when someone finally challenges this status quo it forces you to reevaluate the evidence.

 

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Originally Posted By: Alex
Did your classmates really claim that all women want to have children? Why didn't you just provide a single counterexample?

As for segregated schools, do you have anything to offer to the majority? Do they benefit from your state-imposed egalitarianism? If so, try to explain it to your classmates. If not, why should they indulge in self-sacrifice and self-flagellation? Because of collective guilt for perceived historical injustices? Or just to be considered 'intelligent' by left-wing radicals, perhaps?


As for the all women wanting children example, yes, that was the majority of the class's conclusion. I did not speak up in that class because I am a bit shy in groups of people, and my counterexample was me, which felt really personal.

I did speak up in the segregated schools discussion, as did two other people who shared my viewpoints. I think "collective guilt over historical injustices" doesn't really apply in this situation, as it is a very current issue. Yes, there is a history of oppression that has put many groups at a disadvantage economically and socially, but just because the problem has been around for a long time does not mean that the only reason to fix it is white guilt.

As it is, because of property taxes funding public education, the best education is going to the best-off financially, who are disproportionately white. While getting people to go to schools in other districts is impractical, to say the least, even making sure all schools actually did get the same amount of resources would help equalise opportunities for students of all classes, as well as provide fewer reasons for parents of any class to be reluctant to send their kids to their district school as opposed to a private school(of course, this doesn't account for racism on the part of the parents, and, while I'd hope that some of the resources would be used to ensure that the schools were safe places to be, this is hardly guaranteed).

Beyond trying to figure out how to solve the issues of how to make sure the schools aren't segregated, unsegregated schools would get more support than segregated schools with of a group with negative stereotypes. Hopefully, both the improved and equalised education and the contact hypothesis would bring future generations closer to being more tolerant and have opportunities be as close to equal as is realistically possible.

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Originally Posted By: FnordCola
Pretty sure the protection of minority rights and interests goes farther than 'left-wing radicals.' Unless you're proposing that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is a product of the radical left. Granted, the founding fathers were pretty uneven in actually carrying these ideas out, but the fact that they enshrined them among the central tenets of American government and ethics says something.


To be fair, I'm pretty sure that back then when they said or wrote "men" they meant male white cockasian(sp?) western European Christians preferably of which ever sect was prevalent back then. Negros, asians, slavic, muslims, jews, wiccans, budhists, women, etc.. weren't considered men. They were considered to be some kind of monkey or heretic (especially women which were the root of all evil laugh ).

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The people that they considered to be actual people were supposed to be seen as equal. Our definition of people has expanded, but we can still apply that principle.

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Originally Posted By: Nicothodes
[snip]


The real problem with the issue, which you did touch on, is that most of the inequality stems from the fact that schools are funded largely by property taxes from the surrounding community, so people trapped in low-income neighborhoods tend to get very poor educations. Likewise, it's difficult to increase the property values of the neighborhood to increase the amount of money going to the school without having members of the community become more affluent.

Of course, the point of contention here is that in the US's modern post-industrial information economy, it's far, far more difficult to become affluent without a very high-quality education than it was even four or five decades ago, where a factory job could quite possibly supply a middle-class income for a small family. So it's a classic catch-22- they can't become wealthy without education, and the can't get education without being wealthy. There isn't an easy fix for this by any stretch, but it's an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The closest thing I can think of is to alter the source of most of the funding from the local and state to federal levels in an attempt to more evenly distribute the funding between schools, but the word "political ----storm" come to mind- it'd be a bureaucratic nightmare.

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Not necessarily. It depended a lot on the person in question. Even if most of their opinions on race seem regressive by modern standards, to say that they all thought non-caucasians were subhuman is far from the truth.

 

And on religion the case is even clearer. They did make religious liberty and disestablishment the law of the land, and many of them expressed respect for non-Christian religions. Take Jefferson's Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, whose acceptance he commended as "proof that [Virginia legislators] meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan." Hell, Jefferson himself was a deist who put together his own Bible with many of the bits he found objectionable cut out. There were a fair number of early American leaders who praised Muhammad as a moral exemplar, even if they didn't choose to follow his religion. And treatment of Jews in the US, while not always perfect, was far better than in most parts of Europe.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
The real problem with the issue, which you did touch on, is that most of the inequality stems from the fact that schools are funded largely by property taxes from the surrounding community, so people trapped in low-income neighborhoods tend to get very poor educations. Likewise, it's difficult to increase the property values of the neighborhood to increase the amount of money going to the school without having members of the community become more affluent.

Inequality in funding occurs even in large cities with over a million in population. There will still be favorite schools, usually with more white students, that get a disproportionate share of funds leaving the others to get the leftovers. I spent 9 years in the Chicago public school system so I've seen it happen.

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Yeah, I was going to post something similar. I teach in the Boston public school system. Students are bussed around and may not be likely to attend the school that is geographically closest to them. Yet, there is still an ENORMOUS achievement gap between higher and lower socioeconomic groups within the city.

 

The issue is NOT the inequality in funding. The issue is the idea that the same school and curriculum design is supposed to be equally effective for students from dramatically different backgrounds. Students who live — at home or in their neighborhoods — in an environment that is unsafe, violent, or inconsistent or insufficient in terms of supplying basic needs, or that simply places little value on education, are very unlikely to do well at school.

 

The converse is that students whose home environment is safe and consistent, and who have grown up valuing education and learning, are likely to succeed in school regardless of how well-funded the school is or even how good the teachers are. Those students will probably complain more and maybe be more bitter at a school with less money or crappier teachers, but they will still learn.

 

Schools are a red herring when it comes to learning. Schools are where formal education takes place: they are where the fruits of education are grown, maybe, but they are not where its seeds are planted.

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