Monday, January 23, 2017

The Education Divide, Not a Myth

Talking about education is not something I'm unfamiliar with. Aside from the fact that I've worked as a teacher both in the South and in California, I did a whole series about education as it relates to my younger son, my middle child.

In relation to the recent election and Trump's victory, there has been a lot of reporting about the uneducated, or under educated, white people who voted for Trump. Not to mention that Republicans, conservatives, tend to fall into that same group. Sorry, the data (science!) shows the truth: Conservatives tend to be less intelligent and/or less educated than liberals. Maybe that's why conservatives also tend to hate science so much.

Look, I'm not saying that there are NO smart Republicans/conservatives out there but, on the whole, they tend to be the duller knives in the drawer.

Yes, it's all well and good to talk about studies and data and science, but your opinion is just as good as my facts, right? Well, let me give you a practical example of how all of this plays out in the real world. What I'm about to talk about is NOT science; it is my personal experience and, while subjective, it's also an objective look back at my past.

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in the South, and I also grew up in the Church. Like all typical church kids, I had two groups of friends: the people I went to school with and the people in my youth group at church. In some ways, both of these groups were atypical.

First, church kids are always atypical. The real church kids, at any rate. I'm not talking about the ones who go on Sunday mornings because their parents (moms) make them; I'm talking about the youth group kids who are involved in all the stuff: Sunday morning, Sunday night, midweek youth group, even choir. Those kids are a fairly small population from any high school.

However, my high school, as I've mentioned before, was also atypical. It was one of the first magnet schools in the nation and was (and still is) the top ranked high school in Louisiana. So, yeah, Louisiana: That's not saying much. BUT! At a time when Louisiana was ranked somewhere around 48th in education (not that it's not still down there), my high school was one of the top ranked high schools in the NATION. Top 10 for years. I think it was #3 at some point, even.

Needless to say, I didn't have the typical Southern education, and neither did any of the other teenagers I went to high school with.

Surely I have a point beyond bragging, right? I do! And this is it:

Of the people I'm still in touch with (more than a few) with whom I went to church, the ones who went to regular high schools and received a typical Louisiana education, well, they pretty much all voted for Trump. The exceptions are all female. Every dude I went to church with, every under-educated one of them, voted for Trump.

Now, of the people I went to high school with... Wait, let me drive this point home: You had to be smart to get into this school to begin with and, even so, half of the freshman class EVERY YEAR failed out because they couldn't cut it. So we, at my high school, were both on the smarter end of the scale and receiving a superior education.

Now, of the people I went to high school with with whom I am still in touch (more than a few), nearly all of them supported Clinton. I know of two exceptions: one male, one female (but she was also a church kid, and that kind of conservatism tends to skew things (I say that from my own experience)).

I could go on with this, but I think it's pretty clear. And, sure, some of the people in my youth group went on to higher education, but many of them did not. Those that did didn't go to universities that anyone would consider top notch, and I'm pretty sure, for most people, if you haven't encountered an education that makes you think, requires you to think, before you're out of high school, college is too late.

The truth is that conservatism is based around accepting what you're told without question, Questioning is the enemy. Questioning things that come your way can overcome confirmation bias, and Republicans/conservatives are much more susceptible to confirmation bias than liberals. That's why 85-90% of the fake news during the election was pro-Trump/anti-Clinton. One of the biggest peddlers of fake news stories during the election said they tried, also, on Democrats but just couldn't get Democrats to take the bait.

Look, I'm not trying to offend anyone, not this time. If you feel offended, it's probably because you know this is you. That's not my fault. I'm not calling anyone stupid. [Okay, there is ONE person I would gladly call stupid, but I've already done that, and I don't think he reads my blog anyway.] To some extent, intellect is a choice, because intellectual curiosity is a choice. YOU can choose to not just accept the shit you're eating. YOU can choose to educate yourself.

Stop reading and listening to Right Wing propaganda. Find the news and information that is objective, the places reporting FACTS, not opinions, and follow that, instead. Listen, the only reason the media is "liberal" is because the Right is SO FAR RIGHT that everything else looks liberal. Facts and data and SCIENCE are not "liberal;" they just are. So...

If you don't want the "Coastal Liberal Elites" looking down on you and thinking you're stupid (and sometimes calling you stupid), start educating yourselves on the actual data. And, you know, maybe read the Constitution and look at the laws that Trump is already violating.

Make a difference.


  1. It honestly seems sometimes that people have this bias against being educated. Like, you're not a "regular working Joe" so you only want what's worst for them, instead of just hating someone who's just evil.

    1. Jeanne: Oh, there is definitely a huge bias against being educated in some areas of the country. I ran across it all over East Texas, especially. People who insisted that school was a waste of time because you could get all the education you needed from reading the Bible.
      I'm not even kidding, either. They were even opposed to education ABOUT the Bible. (Because, you know, historically and archaeologically some parts of the Bible don't stand up.)

  2. Based on my, and only my experience, the educated people I know voted for Hillary Clinton. The uneducated went for Trump, or if they couldn't go quite that far, they voted for Gary Johnson or didn't vote at all. What good did that do? I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard "she's too smart for her own good" and "people with book larnin' don't got no common sense." I've said for years that while Americans complain that the schools aren't doing a good job, overall, they hate people who are educated or who can be considered intellectuals.


    1. Janie: It's totally true. Partially because everyone wants to consider themselves smart (just like everyone wants to think they're funny) so running up against someone who is actually smart (or educated) makes them feel less of themselves.

  3. The sad thing is that 'conservatism' used to mean something more than what it appears to stand for now. I used to consider myself quite conservative. In some ways, my views have changed. In other ways, society has moved around me so that my now-liberal views haven't changed but I'm considered a liberal in those areas.

    True 'conservatism' would minimize the role of government in our lives; so 'social conservatives' are not really conservatives at all; they just use government to achieve different means.

    Conservatives liked McCain; but McCain teamed up with Feingold to limit campaign contributions, which the (conservative majority of) the Supreme Court more or less threw out -- a bit of judicial activism that was cheered by many conservatives who (presumably) also supported McCain. In one swell foop, conservatives embraced government regulation of speech even in small amounts, then embraced the judiciary declaring a legislative enactment unconstitutional.

    (Hypocrisy is not endemic only to the right; I'm just picking on them today.)

    1. Briane: Hypocrisy is always most endemic among Conservatives. People tend to think that, to use speeding as an example, speeding is wrong. For other people. Individuals tend to think it's okay for them to speed (because they know what they're doing) but that other people shouldn't because it's breaking the law and dangerous. The more Conservative a person is (meaning the more rigid their thinking) the more likely they will think that way and cling to it. People who have more flexibility of thought begin to realize that that thinking is flawed and recognize the actual dangers of speeding. Flexibility of thought leads to empathy and being socially liberal.

      Yes, it's all a metaphor.