Social classes in the U.S.

In many countries the idea of social classes is accepted, but in the U.S., it is resisted, especially by liberals, on the assumption it means inequality, stratifi­cation, and conflict. After years of social work, I disagree.

I see the first three classes as overlapping, non-threaten­ing, fluid, natural, healthy. They have more equal opportunities than they did in the past.

We have been taught to think that social class is determined by income, education, and occupa­tion; but aren’t these the results of class differences (talent, ambition, and lifestyle). Those with more talent and ambition eventually gain better educations, jobs, and incomes. * They aren’t ‘better’ in terms of human worth, just different.

How useful was high school?

I look back on what the first 12 years of school were for me and the student leaders in the late 50s:

  1. Reading  We weren’t assigned authors we would have loved like Jack London and Ernie Pyle.
  2. Writing  Spelling, vocabulary, and some grammar lessons were good; but we didn’t write enough.
  3. Math  Besides the basics, what was necessary?  Not algebra, geometry, trigonometry – and they didn’t improve our thinking, as was claimed.
  4. Social studies  (not social ‘science’)History was interesting for some, but left out most of the countries.  We didn’t have enough geography, current affairs, or social problems.

How useful was college?

imposters

(This drew a letter of agreement from Martin Anderson, author of IMPOSTERS IN THE TEMPLE.)

In a nation that venerates education, getting a college degree is seen as the ultimate goal, but is it? I’ve looked at what it did for me and my peers.  We were ‘establishment’ types who were graduated from private and public colleges in ’63.  Here are the results.(Keep in mind the difference professors and books can make.)

School vouchers

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Education in the U.S. below the 12th grade in the U.S. is virtually public and the results are often poor.  Education above the12th grade in the U.S. is public and private and the best in the world.  If we want better below the 12th, we can privatize a lot of it with vouchers.  Parents would shop for schools instead of moving to different school districts.  Private schools would spring up according to demand for the disabled, the athletic, vocational, college-bound, English-deficient – whatever.  They would hire more para-professionals and aides.  Public schools would have to compete by cutting top-heavy bureaucracies, tenured union employees, etc.  Those that didn’t produce would lose students.  They would lose money but still have the same amount to spend per student.

School in poorest district wasted money

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I lived across from Midway City School in Westminster for l5 years.  It closed in ’93, but it’s useful to note how it was mismanaged.  It threw out desk/chair combinations, workbooks, a pull-down map, toys, bird houses, bulletin boards, games, dolls, records, teaching mat­erials, lumber, firewood, expensive door closers (now on my house), a file cabinet, and, on one occasion, hundreds of good textbooks.  Lots of yard waste was thrown out, though this could have been used for compost, which the school ground desperately needed.  The heaters in two classrooms went on during the middle of the night, weekends, and holidays.  The automatic sprinklers weren’t turned off during the wet seasons.

Substitute teaching – the pits

I had taught two years in private schools and decided to substitute in public schools. I went through the paperwork hassle and then to an interview. I was told not to expect school to be the way it was when I was young (prophetic words).

My first job was at Dunbar in Washing­ton D.C., which many years ago had an excellent reputation. The head office had an apathetic atmosphere, with the staff going through the motions. The bell rang for the first class and students traipsed into my classroom. Others stuck their heads in to make loud comments. I took roll with some difficulty and started a lesson getting minor cooperation. The lesson worked into liberal and conservative comparisons which they found interesting and said they wanted me back. The bell rang. There was a lot of jostling and fooling around between classes. Some students looked strung out on drugs.

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