Plunkett: Education system proves why we need the government involvement

Rory Plunkett

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Throughout my life I’ve heard many people slander the government, often when complaining about taxes or the justice system. They might even lightheartedly say that they could do better without the government behind their backs.

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While the justice system deserves the grief, most of us could not do better without the federal government, and our education system proves that.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the anti-government movement has experienced a resurgence since 2008. In 2017, the SPLC identified 689 anti-government groups that were active the prior year. 

In the past, I was very critical of our government. I bashed America for its lack of resources for people with disabilities, for never having a woman president, for supporting racism and I bashed the President for his rhetoric.

The American government is underwhelming— but the concept of democracy is great. America’s government is bad only because we have the resources to be great, yet we’re failing ourselves.

It needs to be recognized that America is failing many people, primarily marginalized minority groups like people of color, people with disabilities, the LGTBQ community, and more. However, the federal government has some redeeming qualities.

Public education is one of the few things that America has done mostly right since its inception. America has always offered free public K-12 education to its citizens. While America doesn’t have the highest quality education, World Top 20 ranked us at 14 in 2019 so far. Regardless of our place in the top 20, we should thankful that we have free education in the first place.

As students, especially at Colorado State University, we are all aware of how expensive education is. However, this is a public university meaning that we have the government to thank for this opportunity, even as painful as that might be, it’s true.

According to USA Facts, the cost of higher education is increasing. However, the federal government is spending less on education but spending about $800 billion more than their overall revenue.

Polls consistently show that a majority of people want the federal government to provide more aid for education.

CSU is a land grant university, meaning that all of us are pursuing our higher education thanks to the Morrill Act, a piece of federal legislation. The Morrill Act essentially gave states public land to use for profit and then those proceeds were to be used to establish at least one college. So CSU has is only here due to federal legislation.

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So while America has been great with accessible public education, the system still has its downfalls.

Donald Earl Collins, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland University College, often finds that his white students complain when his lectures spend “too much time on race.” Collins says that history classes that ignore black and brown stories are normal.

A report from the SPLC shows that very few K-12 teachers have proper textbooks, understanding, and comfort with the material necessary to teach about slavery.

This shows how systemic racism bleeds into public education, perpetuating discrimination and white supremacy since important American history that involves black and brown stories are not being told to our youth.

Douglas J. Amy, professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College, created a website called governmentisgood.com. Amy argues that the greater success of other democratic governments in addressing serious economic and social problems shows that it can be done and that we could be following their lead. Amy mentions how countries like the Netherlands and Sweden have both reduced their poverty rates by over 80%.

So if other countries fix their problems why can’t America fix ours?

And even though America fails an important and large portion of its population -a combination of majority groups, the idea of our government is so that we can change this and improve on our faults.

We have the power to improve our education, change how our government spends our money, save the environment, support medical advances and so much more.

Rory Plunkett can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @roryswav