When the Black Lives Matter hashtag started it was a bold turn of phrase in the face of too many fatal incidents that would lead one to question whether or not black people matter in America.
Other groups offended by the provocative thought that there would be a need to make such a statement responded with an All Lives Matter hashtag.
Following suit, police officers who felt the focus on shootings of unarmed black people was unfairly painting them as racist abusers (and endangering their lives) responded with Blue Lives Matter.
Since then there have been other causes seeing the utility hashtagging affirmations of lives that should matter, but really don’t.
Along these lines, I have a question for education advocates on all political sides – especially those of you who see “equity” as our chief goal – about the 57 million students in our country.
How many of them matter? Surely not all of them, right?
I wonder. We talk a good game, but when we say we are “fighting for all kids” to get an education, our language too often reveals we mean “some kids.”
The truth is, only some kids matter.
This is an ironic problem for “equity” advocates who make a good claim that students who are marginalized socially, racially, and/or economically need more than a mere equal share of resources, but the same advocates tend to show bad faith in advocating support of students presumed to be problem-free.
Let’s do some reductionist equity math to illustrate the point. 6 million of our 57 million students attend private schools. I won’t ask you the rhetorical question “do they matter.” Let’s skit to answer: no, they don’t. They’re probably rich, white, and have parents we don’t like.
Let’s move on. That leaves 51 million students who actually matter.
There are 3 million students attending charter schools. From the public dialogue these students don’t matter either. As proof, think about how public school boosters scream for more funding they also sit idle as kids in charter schools get less money from the State. Even worse, these same public school lovers focus intently on killing or curbing the schools renegade parents have chosen for their children.
Because once you cross over the line to charters, you and your children cease to matter.
So, now, that leaves 48 million students who matter.
But, wait again.
There are 2 million students who are home-schooled. Shall I even mention how little they matter?
We’re down to 46 million students who still matter.
I hate to do this, but there’s another group to remove from the equation.
There are 10 million students in rural schools.
They don’t matter. At all.
Now we’re down to 36 million students (You might be able to think of other students who are on the fringe of mattering).
This exercise leaves us with 16 million American students who don’t matter. For moral people, that has to be a problem. The fact that it’s the main education establishment, its employees, and their unions, that train the public to do this divisive reverse equity math should trouble all of us. We all make tax contributions to support state-based education systems, and it should respect all of us.
And, the fact that we let the advocates of some kids turn our leaders away from representing all kids foretells a nation in trouble. How can you lead if you only consider some of your people worthy of attention?
Let’s be clear that there isn’t any worthy candidate for any America office who divides children into two separate camps: the deserving and the undeserving. My God and my heart tells me America doesn’t have a single disposable child.