Thomas Jefferson VS Alexander Hamilton: The Battle For Sex Education

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If we go back to the beginnings of the United States, there were two views contending for what this country should take. One, as propounded by Hamilton was based to some extent on the old European order and the idea of noblesse oblige or simply stated the upper-class had the property, education and culture to ensure the country's success -- because these attributes assured their active involvement in what needed to be done while giving them the ability to do so. The continuity necessary over time could not be guaranteed by the other classes of Americans who at any given time could just pick up and move on.

Jefferson on the other hand felt that a competitive advantage was gained by empowering the citizens with the best education possible, based on the simple logic that government relies on the support of a majority of its population to respond to ever changing economic, political, and cultural issues. A well-educated society therefore stood the best chance of succeeding. If one thinks about it, Jefferson's approach is probably the only rational justification for a democratic system of government.

Although the Jeffersonian view seemed to have prevailed at the beginning of the 19th century with the taking of both the Executive and Legislative branches of United States government, the rapid expansion westward and the wealth it created vested the vast majority of the wealth into the hands of people whose self-interest was more adequately expressed by the Hamiltonian view. To that end, views like Social Darwinism gained currency and were used to explain and justify the domination of wealthy as proof of the upper-classes' superiority.

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, it became evident to those in power that a universal system of education was necessary to create a work force capable of doing the more skilled tasks that were now required by nascent American industries, while supplying daycare for the workers children. However, the beehive model of public education that came into existence was designed only to recreate the existing social order and not challenge it in the slightest. In order for students from the lower classes to succeed beyond their class of origin they had to be far better than the George W. Bush-like students, who are able to succeed with little or no work based solely on the pedigree of their families. We see this today with toney private high schools and Ivy League universities that have tuition costs too expensive for any of the working-class in this country, except the super gifted. Going to these schools is more about access than the education.

Instead of positing a pragmatic public education system open to taking the student wherever the social and scientific topics might lead, American public education's main task was seen as indoctrinating its student population to know and support their place in the existing power structure -- while avoiding any controversial topic that might challenge it. Within this public education system the segregation was not only racial and ethnic, but it was also segregated by classes that reflected the communities where the schools were situated and by what expectation there was for the students. In talking today with the few students that come from poor inner-city communities where they did well in school despite the low expectations and general apathy that they had somehow conquered, most of them describe their arrival at a racially and socially integrated university as tantamount to being hit by a freight train. Those who ultimately succeeded under this last unexpected challenge had to not only stay current with their college courses with marginal skills, but at the same time teach themselves all the things that were left out of the inner-city public school curriculum. Needless to say, the attrition of lower socio-economic students is still significantly higher than those from privileged suburban public or private schools where they were more adequately prepared.

In focusing on the specific issue of sex education in schools one can see how an unrealistic inner-city curriculum is designed to avoid the subjective realities that exist in these poor communities, and holds little or no relevancy for communities that have none of the conditions in place that would make successful education possible. In a predominantly lower-class Latino community where custom sees young girls sexually active long before their 18th birthday, little is done to address this phenomenon and its predictable social and economic cost to the young woman who winds up pregnant at 14 -- and again at 18. This child-student can't be reasonably expected to take care of herself and her children and now becomes a burden on society, which picks up the tab while watching (idly) as another generation of institutionalized underachievement is passed to the next generation.

What now boggles the mind is that instead of changing public education to finally address this and other impediments to lower-class learning, there is (and always has been) a movement to eliminate sex education altogether in Sarah Palin's Alaska country and elsewhere. Sigh:

" In the Juneau County District, Attorney Scott Southworth sent a letter to various school districts in the area warning health teachers about sex education. According to reports, teachers could face criminal charges for telling students how to put on a condom, take birth-control pills, or anything have that nature. The warning has "befuddled" the counties. Apparently teaching a student how to use contraceptives is technically linked to the delinquency of a minor. The misdemeanor could land you 9 months in jail or $10,000 fine. It apparently promotes sex among minors, which is technically true.

By furloughing teachers and lessening the school year, the most likely result will be a further increase in child pregnancy, which will ripple through our society as the years go by with higher welfare and criminal justice costs. The notion that relevant public education would obviate these costs is not even on the table.

In the final analysis, the abject failure of creating a viable public education system is probably the greatest indictment of Hamiltonian beliefs: that somehow the minority know what's best for the majority.


16

04 2010

3 Comments

Virginia, . I dont have healthcare at this time either, but I will surely NOT opt for the Obama plan!! Have you ever noticed how many campaign promises that Obama has NOT fulfilled? Obama talks and dismisses every thought that Americans are concerned with, yet the next day someone in his administration is saying the opposite Do you really think Healthcare for All is free??? Whose going to pay the 1.6 Trillion its going to cost? Are you ready to pay for all the 12-20 Million Illegals that will be covered? I have worked all my life, made it to retirement now, and Ill be damned if I worked all those years to pay for the illegals who come across our borders and have bankrupted my State! (CA) .. You need to isten to Glenn Beck, on Fox news daily Open up your eyes and see whats going on around you .. and when you vote, please be an Informed & Educated Voter!!!! This Healthcare bill affects every American Congress is exempt from this plan, do you wonder why??? We already have the best in the World, and yes we do need reform, but not this type of reform .. the Seniors are getting the dirty end of the stick one day, you will be one of them .. This Bill could be dangerous and disasterous for Americans .. Lets get reform, but not this way Theres no rush to get this signed into law, other than to make Obama looks like his Superman which he isnt!! This is just another step forward to Socialism .. so please get yourself informed read the entire bill and youll see that you can keep your own insurance, but if anything changes, you dont have an option to find another insurance company .. you automatically go on the Government Plan like it or not!! Rationed healthcare, waiting in long lines, end-of-life consultations every 5 years and the list is long .. Say, perhaps you may want to go to a Tea Party those extremists are Republicans, Democrats, Independants, etc .. and Americans are outraged at Congress and WE want to determine whats best for us, not the Govt.!!!

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“In focusing on the specific issue of sex education in schools one can see how an unrealistic inner-city curriculum is designed to avoid the subjective realities that exist in these poor communities, and holds little or no relevancy for communities that have none of the conditions in place that would make successful education possible. In a predominantly lower-class Latino community where custom sees young girls sexually active long before their 18th birthday, little is done to address this phenomenon and its predictable social and economic cost to the young woman who winds up pregnant at 14 -- and again at 18.

What now boggles the mind is that instead of changing public education to finally address this and other impediments to lower-class learning, there is (and always has been) a movement to eliminate sex education altogether in Sarah Palin's Alaska country and elsewhere.”

I sit a desk in the LAUSD District 6 headquarters as I read and type.
I am a HOUSED teacher since May 19, 2009.
On May 14th 2009, as a prelude to the LAUSD perfunctory nurse showing of the 5th grade LAUSD movies “Girl to Woman” and “Boy to Man”, I did something I learned in a 1992 district 2-day course on sex education taught by Dr. Ruth Rich, then head nurse in the LAUSD.
There was a female adult present.
One of the actions that a principal chose to remove me from the classroom after 21 years was a question box that students could anonymously write anything they wanted. The ground rules were set beforehand that I would not answer anything personal or unrelated to their movies.
The second action was to have students write on the board any slang for parts of the human body covered by a swim suit. Proper terminology was then added, linked, and student input erased.
These teachable moments had been done by me in years past with no negative repercussions. I realize there is no causal effect whatsoever, but 11 of those students went on to matriculate from the University of California system.
I was ‘housed’ 8 months before a conference was held where “the activity in question violated Bulletin - 1347 and could be looked upon as student exploitation and annoyance. This bulletin further elaborates that sexual exploitation includes conduct or encouragement of activities related to pornography” was presented me.

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