I can’t help it.  When I see people on television, online, or literally on the streets, I sometimes think about how much better or worse their lives would be if they had experienced different K-12 educational experiences. In addition, I often imagine what America would look like if everybody in the country truly wanted the nation to maximize its potential.

I feel that educational disparities are so widespread that many former students are only living a fraction of the lives that they were destined for. I’m sure that there are potentially great writers who are instead illiterate because society wrote them off, possible business-owners who are instead unemployed because their school leaders didn’t do their jobs, and even would-be architects who are instead homeless because they never received the proper foundation from their parents.

When I think about the fortunate few who come from privileged families, I also wonder what would have happened to these individuals if they had not gone to the best K-12 schools that money could buy. Although I realize that some of these people would have still achieved great success even if they didn’t grow up with countless advantages, I’m convinced that many of them would not have been so exceptional as to overcome their lack of opportunities.  As a result of this change in life circumstances, some current politicians who demonize destitute human beings would know what it’s like to be possessed by lifelong poverty, more than a few current tech entrepreneurs would be waiting in line for food stamps instead of feeding themselves based on what they do online, and several current doctors would be serving life in prison instead of preserving life in hospitals. 

From a broader perspective, I also wonder what the current state of the Union would be if we really attempted to give each child an opportunity to fulfill their dreams. Many might think that America is a ‘first world’ country right now, but if the nation had genuinely tried to expand educational opportunities after the U.S. Supreme Court declared public school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, then the current U.S. would probably be a fourth world country compared to an alternative America that would have benefitted from 62 years of relentless efforts to capitalize on the talents of each child. 

Americans might be taking study-in-space trips to Mars by now. Teleportation might have become commonplace. And police brutality might just be something for the history books.  Just think about how advanced the nation would be if it actually had a 365-days per year, 24 hours per day focus on effectively educating all children, including those in the Latino and black communities whose ancestors built a calendar system and a clock from genius, respectively.

In our current time period, however, the country continues to counterproductively place a low priority on the education of low-income and/or minority people, and this indifference to human potential seems to be reflected in the U.S.’s mediocre educational performance compared to other developed nations.  It’s almost as if the nation is repeating a class where it keeps picking on the same people to answer questions even though others have had their hands up for years only to be shot down by looks of contempt. In a different place, practicality and a desire to see children lead full lives might move people to take action. But, then again, this country does not really care about school tragedies anyway.

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