Saks Or Dollar Store Education?

It is no secret that this country is experiencing what some are calling the disappearance of the middle class.  As we all know, whatever happens in society typically happens in our schools.   With the erosion of the middle class, those neighborhoods that serve as feeder schools to one neighborhood—the affluent, or the other—the poor, are seeing similar trends in the type of education that is being offered and the type of education that a child receives.

The quality of supplies, teacher qualifications, and oftentimes, neighborhood, community, and parental support depends upon the zip code of the student and where the school is located.  This is a sad, painful, awful truth.

Just recently, a financial analyst on a major, national television network reported that those who are fairing better in these hard economic times are those who are better educated.  Now, whether you agree with this statement or not, it is something that should at least be given a pause for thought and greater reflection.  I can’t stress enough what statistics have already proven.  Schools mirror the societies that they serve.

So, for some students, their educational experience will be high-end and of good quality—Saks. For other students, their education will be a bargain—Dollar Store.  There might just be a trade of one thing to get something else.

Regardless of where you stand financially, once the middle class is gone, it will, in some form or fashion, touch the lives of us all.  We will see more loss of jobs, more difficulty in realizing the American dream, and schools that can no longer meet 21st Century global citizenship needs.

How can the erosion of the middle class be stopped?  What is the answer? The man credited with being “The Father of American Education,” Horace Mann, offered advice way back in the 1800’s.  To paraphrase, Horace Mann said that education is the great equalizer of all men.  It prevents one from being poor.

We, as stakeholders in a global community, have to better prepare our students—all students.  All students have to be critical thinkers and reflective learners that can problem solve.  Their ability to effectively use technology will be critical.  There shouldn’t be a Saks education for some and a Dollar Store education for others.

If schools mirror the societies they serve, then what image does our American society reflect?

By Cheryl Harris Curtis

Cheryl Harris Curtis is an Educational Consultant/Writer that is a candidate in the world’s only Developmental Education Doctoral program. Believing that her personal mission is to inspire, uplift and empower, she encourages others to work to do the same.  Feel free to contact her at or follow her on twitter @educationreform.

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