Discovering the Relevance of Words
Last week a student approached me with an amazing opportunity. Her favorite poet, Sarah Kay, was promoting a poetry project that was travelling to schools across America. Sparked by her enthusiasm, I sent an email to the organization inquiring about their workshops and explaining how beneficial this opportunity could be for the students here, students whose voices are often ignored. I was encouraged by the enthusiastic reply from the author of the email. I was disgusted when I opened the .pdf
Here is an email I drafted, but did not send:
Unfortunately, your price tag is well above the reality of our publicly (under) funded institution.
It is unfortunate that a program such as this, a program that would greatly benefit the impoverished, is priced for the elite.
I understand there are administrative costs associated with what your organization does, but this pay-per-ed concept is a microcosm of the disparity of wealth and knowledge that runs rampant in our society.
Though I will not edit my words, please do not take this as a personal dig at your organization; I respect what you are doing a great deal. I am simply extremely disappointed that I will not be able to extend such an amazing opportunity to the students here.
Enjoy your tour of suburban America.
In a strange way I am reminded of NPR’s “White Boy Ranchers” report from yesterday’s drive home. The report was about legal marijuana ranchers (growers, farmers, marijuanistas, whatever) who peddle their wares illegally.
In states like California with legal channels through which to grow and sell marijuana, the market has become flooded and, as a result, the supply exceeds the demand and the price is low. In states where marijuana is illegal, demand exceeds supply (or, at least perceived supply) and the price remains high (as do the clients, ba dum tss). Not many people comparison shop the black market. They “know a guy” not guys.
Illegality creates exclusivity; exclusivity warrants a high price tag.
Similarly, though almost exactly conversely, the price tag of education in America breeds exclusivity whether we’re talking about the university system or public education.
While the pot dealers are effectively protesting the legalization of their product by, for example, moving from California, where they can operate legally, to New York, where the weed is very much illegal, families who can afford nice houses and can choose not to live in neighborhoods where people would not want to live are given access to a more exclusive educational experience allowing for access to more exclusive post-secondary opportunities. . .
When will we legalize education and flood the market with knowledge?
When will the dealers of thoughts stop hiding behind the exclusivity of their product?