The Education and Economies’ of North and South Americas’ Growing Likenesses
by Kelly J. Dwyer
Years ago when I first began teaching in Peru, I vividly remember the culture shock of returning stateside that year. A small nearby town was celebrating the opening of their very own private prison. I couldn’t believe their glee. Did they not care about the disproportionate and rising prison population? I concluded that prisons would become their own mini-military industrial complex. Once these private prisons were filled, they would become an economy dependent on the poorly educated and poor to exist.
The other issue that struck me with major concern is the growing momentum of vouchers and charter schools as a “fix” to education. I knew immediately that it would lead to the same economic/educational structure that existed in Peru and other Latin American countries. Public schools were for the poorest of the poor and anyone who had any avail of funds, sent their children to private schools. (Albeit not always the best in quality either).
I predicted that charter schools and vouchers would leave the majority of the behavioral problems for the public schools. Students who didn’t have an opportunity of choice of other schools (due to their socioeconomic status) would be denied a quality education just because they could not attend another school. This has become the reality. And many of the children who attend these urban public schools will be the future prison populations.
In light of the New York Times article on the eroding middle class over the past weekend and folks like Senator Elizabeth Warren singing out warnings for years, I see that it has all come to pass and full circle. The Daily Kos’ contributor Tom P contributed link and comment to both the NYTimes article and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s words. However, Richard Lyon’s comments on the blog were those that brought me back to that recollection of my certainty of where we were headed.
This kind of bi-modal economy could perhaps be sustained if they can keep the revolution from erupting. It likely would look something like the historical configuration of most Latin American economies.
I think that a lot of the problem is that the American middle class has allowed itself to be deluded into believing that it is not an endangered species … which it clearly is.
I struggle with the efforts to help Peru’s education system while I watch the decline from much of what the U.S. system once was. I rest assured that TeachaTeacher provides a rich experience for the Volunteer as well as helping correct a disparity.
It is certainly my desire that TeachaTeacher helps both Peruvians as well as our Volunteers with a perspective of knowing education for all, creates a far more stable economic situation and even better, doesn’t exclude the future world problem solvers, because we are going to need them! There is hope for both, we must believe.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru. Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.
Kelly J. Dwyer is Executive Director of Teach a Teacher Nonprofit. A native of Montana. She has been an educator in the U.S. and internationally. We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.
* Some images were acquired from Google Images Thank you Google Images!