Hacking the meritocracy

Put on your cynic hat for a moment, and answer the following questions.

What do you do when you’re on top of a society that believes in meritocracy, but you want your kids to stay on top?

What if your society believes its schools help create a meritocracy, because kids get the grades they deserve and, as a consequence, the university acceptances and jobs and scholarships they deserve?

According to an article on Yahoo! finance, the answer is clear: maintain the gap between you and the masses by spending more money on your child’s education – by moving to a good district, or paying for private schools or tutoring.  The article claims this simple circumvention of the alleged “meritocracy generator” is widening the wealth gap, because rich kids go to better schools, get better jobs, and get richer.

In other words, public schools generate meritocracy (if they even do that) only for those who can’t afford to opt out.  And pouring more money into the educational system won’t help, because the rich can always outspend us.  So, obviously, the solution has to be to make public school mandatory for everyone, and ban both private schools and private tutors, and set up rules so that rich kids cannot parlay their parent’s leverage into any advantage.  But of course, that’s discrimination, because if inherited wealth cannot confer any advantage, then why should inherited smarts or inherited athletic ability or inherited good looks parlay any advantage?  This approach leads us straight down the Harrison Bergeron path.

If, then, we can’t forbid the rich to outspend us in education, how can we work at closing that education gap their wealth seems to be creating?  As mentioned, the public school system can’t be the answer to that, because it can’t compete with its better-financed private lookalikes.  What’s left, in my opinion, is to spend money smarter, and homeschooling – where achievement appears to be independent of income and spending – seems to be one way to do it.

Can you think of other approaches?


2 thoughts on “Hacking the meritocracy

    1. thduggie Post author

      Why, thank you – though I’m pretty sure it was you who introduced me to the story in the first place… 🙂


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