One of the important points I notice in Horace Mann’s annual report for the Massachusetts State Board of Education (1848) is the denunciation of “European theory.” It was about 50 years after the French revolution when he wrote, “the fatal extremes of overgrown wealth and desperate poverty.” History is full of fallen empires due to the decline of the middle class. I sense Mann was worried about the polarization of money and power in his state, and felt that education is the great equalizer. It is still an issue to this day when in America the richest 1% of the people holds 42.7% of the financial wealth, while the next 19% of people holds 50.3%, and lastly the other 80% of people account for only 7% of the wealth (Wolff, 2010). That means 20% of the people control 93% of the financial wealth in our country.
While reading the selection from Booker T. Washington’s address at the Atlanta Exposition entitled “On Achieving Social Equity,” I would have to say that he had to be one of the magnanimous leaders in American history. I understood his striving for unity, but I was struck by his humble approach coming from a man who was born into slavery, and went on to accomplish so many great things. His ability to put the past behind him when speaking to an exposition from the “cotton states” is inspirational.
Arthur Ellis’ excerpt” Multicultural Education” made me reflect on of my own family history. My father’s family moved to America from Germany in the 1930’s, and worked in the fields of Montana. My wife’s mother emigrated from Taiwan in the 1960’s, and neither of our parents taught us their native languages due to stigma and wanting to fit in. I was thankful that in my father’s later years I was able to find out a lot of my family’s history, but I regret not experiencing more of the culture first hand.
Considering all things leads me wanting to create an equal playing ground for everyone. We need to strengthen economic equality while acknowledging one of our greatest strengths is our diverse society. I agree with Mann in that education is one of the great equalizers, and as educators we will be a focal point for that task when teaching people regardless of backgrounds.
Wolff, E. N. (2010). Recent trends in household wealth in the United States: Rising debt and the middle-class squeeze – an update to 2007. Working Paper No. 589. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.