Education is, if anything, about the future. For every family in every city, town, and region in every country, education is a system designed to build a better future for our children.
In America, for more than a century, that future has been wrapped up in something we imagine called The American Dream, the idea that in this country everyone has the chance to improve their lot in life, and that every child has, through diligence and effort, the chance to improve on the lives of their parents and grandparents. Thus, the American Dream is, and should be, very much a central theme of our system of education. It should not be the ground for a political battle.
Like issues of civil discourse, media literacy and the ability to separate fact from fiction, understanding the most basic facts surrounding national economics MUST be part of our K-12 education. That does not mean that every child should fully understand the Federal Reserve or the complexities of the banking or tax systems. But this simple, short video, on the facts, perceptions, and fictions of income equality in America should be required viewing, as precedent for discussion, in every high school:
The American Dream is dying, of not dead, for the vast majority of Americans, and they don’t even know it. This is not political hype; it is a fact. The best alternative is not socialism; it is modest changes to policies that have dramatically over-favored the wealthy for decades. The worst alternative is to do nothing, or to believe in the proven voodoo of trickle-down economics. If we think America is immune from the global revolutions of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, born out of radical income inequality, we are just plain stupid.
The role of education is to get the next generation past stupid. Understanding the causes and impacts of this 6 minute video is worth to a student’s future more than a 5 on the American History AP test.