Madari Pendas/Contributing Writer
The educational system, prior to entry into college, has systematically turned education into a hierarchy. Colleges with more prestige are at the top of the educational pyramid and are the schools counselors encourage attendance to. Therefore, a student’s worth is assessed in terms of collegiate acceptance, rather than the internal pursuit for higher education.
If a person goes to a “prestigious” school, they are thought superior to their counterpart who chooses to attend a community college or trade school.
For example, a student who is accepted into the University of Florida receives more praise than a student who decides to attend Miami Dade College.
Why? Because high schools have trivialized knowledge into statistics and rankings.
Not only does it trivialize education into a proverbial “pissing contest,” but gives young people an undeserved sense of entitlement. They begin to believe that they are above trade schools and community colleges.
This attitude has kept many new graduates unemployed because they have felt entitled to better than minimum wage salaries, better than entry level positions, better than unpaid internships.
All students, from the ones who are attending vocational schools to ivy league schools should receive adulation.
However, there have been many casualties as a result of the educational hierarchy. For instance, schools that greatly service the community are castigated for their lack of prestige.
For example, the English Center is an educational institution with multiple campuses throughout Miami. It offers English language courses, GED testing, childcare services and vocational certification in a myriad of fields. It is filled with many immigrants, who are hoping to develop their English speaking skills, those hoping to learn a new trade, and others who are rearing children and need a flexible school schedule. It is a place familiar to our forbearers. It’s purpose is to suffuse the Miami populace with useful skills and ability to effectively compete in the workforce.
Many reading this article would wonder what the importance of this institution is and even disparage its existence. Most would never even think of attending because they want to receive the “honor” that is associated with certain institutions, which may not have any real world relevancy.
But the English Center reminds us of what we once were– newcomers to a nation, with dreams of success and stability. The first members of our families who arrived in the United States went to facilities similar to the English Center, they did not have the luxury to consider the merits of different institutions. They waited in long sinuous lines that barely crept forward, they attended class at night while fatigued from a day’s work, they dealt with the frustrations and inefficiencies of the bureaucratic systems. The English Center and similar institutions allow immigrants to give incredible opportunities to their children– starting at the bottom so their children would not have to.
The English Center and Miami Dade College are seen as “safety schools,” portrayed as afterthoughts in the educational world. The current educational model and pervasive thought among students has created cultural elitism.
Any solution offered is only a half solution, because the methods of rectification require an adjustment in attitude– a humbling of the individual, as well as a change in the educational model. Instead of using a tier system to evaluate after high school options, a supportive attitude of all education should be encouraged. If a student chooses to continue their education they should automatically receive reverence, rather than criticism or ostracism because their school is not regarded as prestigious.
All education is prestigious. All education is good education; the quality of the mind is not determined by the acronyms shouted at football games.