“Class warfare” in education

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” This he said to a New York Times reporter in 2006 while discussing how little the rich pay in taxes relative to their incomes. He had noticed that he paid a lower tax rate than anyone else in his office, mostly, but not all, secretaries and clerks.

These class discrepancies are not limited to what people pay in taxes, however. Our school system reinforces these income hierarchies by providing good educations to those who can afford it, and withholding it from others, meaning that these socioeconomic disparities remain in place. (And it should perhaps go without saying that I am not talking about individual schools or individual teachers or individual students here, but rather the big picture: schools in poor neighborhoods and town are not as good, are not stocked as well, do not provide as many opportunities as schools in wealthy neighborhoods.)

But how do we talk about changing this since those in power, both politically and educationally are only representing the wealthy? The University of California system just hired a new President. They pilfered him from the University of Texas and lured him in by paying him — are you sitting down? — $828,084 per year. Yes, that’s almost $4 from every single student in the entire system. This was, apparently, approved “by Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders,” but they, too, are largely of the owning class themselves.

I’m not sure what to suggest here, but it’s clear that equalizing our educational system is a pretty big and entrenched issue.