K-12 Education: A Big Issue We’re Not Addressing

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Why aren't progressives running on a platform for fixing K-12 education? Other countries require less hours for children, no exams until their teens, feature a less stressful environment (don't treat kids as future 9-5 job workers) and have smarter students.

This issue seems like an easy win, but nobody is making it a key part of their campaign.

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SFP Book Club: Our Revolution, Chapter Eight – The Decline of the American Middle Class

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Howdy, y'all. This is a short chapter compounded with charts and graphs irreproducible here, which suits me fine because in words of the scholar Jon Bois, "welcome to college football saturday." Most of this chapter should not be news to you. It opens with Bernie painting a pretty bleak picture:

Today in America, more than 43 million Americans—including nearly 20 percent of all children in our country—live in poverty, many in extreme poverty. Almost 28 million Americans have no health insurance, and thousands of those die every year because they don't get to a doctor in time. Millions of bright kids can't afford to go to college without plunging deeply into debt. Millions of seniors and far too many disabled veterans struggle to stay alive on inadequate Social Security checks. (206)

Wow, you look at something like that, and it just smacks "America is already great," doesn't it? Certainly no room for improvement.

Bernie then goes on to talk about a subject he should know intimately for a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, wealth redistribution. But, contrary to what the bowtie-wearing finger-waggling pundits might tell you on any given day, he's talking about the funneling for wealth up from the middle class (and below) into the hands of the top one-tenth of one percent. "In 19790, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owned about 7 percent of the wealth in this country. Today it owns 22 percent" (207). There's some alarming bar graph near by, but I'm not going to read it. Charts are for suckers and upper management types (not mutually exclusive).

He pivots to income inequality next to touch on that before going somewhere interesting. He outlines what he believes created the economic conditions that are traditionally associated with "American prosperity" or "the good ol' days" or maybe even "again," to some folks. He speaks first of "American industrial might" where "the workers in those factories were often unionized, and had good benefits" (208). He talks of "millions of returning vets went to college on the GI Bill" which, "combined with a strong government-backed secondary mortgage system, also opened the door to homeownership for the first time to millions of American families" (208-209). He goes on to bring up Eisenhower and "massive investment in our infrastructure—particularly our transportation infrastructure" and how that functioned as a jobs program (209).

And having said all those things, he is then quick to immediately point out that the times were awful for just about every minority class, which they were, but people have a way making even the grimy parts of the past look a lot brighter than they were.

Bernie continues explaining how the special interests "started demanding a bigger and bigger slice of the pie" before very very briefly touching on the word "freedom" (210). He states:

They argued that "freedom" was no longer about workers having the right to earn decent incomes and live their lives in dignity and security. No, "freedom" was now about employers having the right to pay their employees the lowest wages possible without government interference. "Freedom" was about the right of Wall Street and hedge fund managers to make incredible amounts of money, without regard for whether their investments destroyed lives or fouled the environment. "Freedom" was the ability of billionaires to buy elections and create a government that worked for them, not the middle class or working families. (210).

All that to say that I wonder if Bernie is familiar with Erich Fromm.

He closes the chapter with a series of illustrative examples to show what exactly a hollowing out of the middle class looks like in urban centers like Detroit (and nearby Flint) and Baltimore to rural places like McDowell County, West Virginia. "Middle-class decline is not just an urban phenomenon," he is quick to point out (216). His final plea is for us to work towards an economy for all people, not just the ones at the top, and that's what the next chapter is about.

Well, I've written all the way up to kickoff, so sound off in the comments and I'll see them sometime.

Solidarity, –/u/writingtoss

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