Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chile. June 2017. It’s happening.

Thanks everyone for coming out on Sunday a couple weekends ago for BBQ! It means a lot to share good food and drinks to mark my 5th year anniversary away from the USA. Definitely had a great time with you all!

So a lot of you might have known that I’ve been making plans to go to South America for some time. But this is the first time I'm announcing a hard date.

Chile is finally going to happen exactly one year from now.

When I had set out on this ten-year journey abroad after university, I had a simple hypothesis--why was my Californian public education ten times the cost it would have been a couple of decades ago? Was it an accident students were taking more than four years to finish their degrees? Why were the Board of Deans and chancellors of major universities often breaking the records for highest paid public officials within their state, throughout the country? And are students all around world experiencing this? Questions I felt completely relevant to ask considering that tuition loan debt would grow to be over $1 trillion dollars just a year later.

And as the first half of my ten-year journey across the world is coming to an end, I believe I have a firm grasp of what caused the growing unaffordability and inaccessibility of education in the USA and throughout the world for the past 40 years.

My first stop for this research, the Philippines, provided me with a chance to learn to love education. But it also taught me about how an overreliance on privatizing public education, such as through the school voucher system, is a theft of the public purse. South Korea, I had hoped, would have provided me with the opportunity to see why the NE Asian country ranks #2 in education. But at times, Korea demonstrated an educational dystopia, where families are forced to spend around $1000/month, on average, to send a single primary school-aged child to outside academies just to pass certifications and national exams, which greatly enrich private educational and testing firms.

Logic would state that I should continue onwards to Finland, given that they are often regarded by most to have the best education in the world. And yes, one can make a very strong argument for modeling Finland’s education system—socialist Finland invests heavily into its schools, even going as far as providing free education for all. But it’s not a system that many governments can emulate without addressing the core issue of inequality.

The Chilean case, which I plan to research and base my third book on--while not perfect--at least opens up the conversation about how neoliberal policies and inequality have devastated education for the past 40 years, and how to actually turn it around. Since 2006, protestors throughout Chile protested their government in the Penguin Marches, and have continued to sustain this movement and build a path towards free education-for-all by 2020.

Wish me luck, because the next five years are going to get rough.

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