Although it has apparently received very little attention from any of the popular, grass-roots or establishment political organizations working in the civil rights arena , discrimination on the basis of education is one of the major civil rights issues of our time. This blatant form of discrimination isthe root of considerable economic injustice.

Historically the strategies of the traditional civil rights organizations in the area of education in this country have been directed towards :

  1. Improving the schools of their political constituencies, and
  2. Getting their affiliates into other, presumably better, schools: bussing experiments, Equal Opportunity programs, Affirmative Action, etc.

Because so much energy is focussed in this direction, few pay much attention to an issue of equal, and potentially even greater, importance:
The right of persons without BA's. MA's, or PhD's, or even an official high school education , to compete on equal terms with persons who have these degrees on the basis of their qualifications, experience, knowledge, ability and track records alone.

Consider these items:

  1. Current laws permit any enterprise to place the requirement for a BA, MA or even a PhD at the top of the list of its qualifications for a job. Such a violation of civil rights is on the same level refusing employment on the grounds of skin color, gender, nationality, age, and so forth.Yet this point is rarely raised in public discourse.
  2. For jobs within the school system or the academic world, institutions are free to demand certificates at whatever level they wish even before interviewing a teaching candidate. Nowadays Mozart himself, who received all of his training from his father, would be required to produce a PhD in music to teach composition in our colleges. One might raise the objection that this particular example is so elitist that it represents only a tiny fraction of the group of potential music teachers. Well, lets take an example from the contemporary world: Jazz music was invented in the early part of this century by poor musicians working in the night clubs and brothels of New Orleans. Their creative energy and imagination gave the United States an indigenous artistic medium that, for the first time in history - ( even though music is in some sense a universal language ) - is listened to and appreciated by most of the human race. Yet persons who teach music in the schools, whether jazz or classical, must have the degrees that the persons who created jazz could never have hoped to obtain . Most musicians would concur with my opinion that the "jazz studies" offered in most colleges and universities have very little to do with the living art form.
  3. One finds people everywhere who possess an exceptional competence for many different kinds of work, including teaching, the arts, medical skills , scientific knowledge, indeed just about any kind of skilled profession. Without even a murmur of protest, many of these have given up the search for the positions for which they are qualified, merely because they don't have, can't get, or for reasons of pride refuse to stoop to the indignity of, getting a certificate from a certification system for which they rightly feel contempt.
  4. Also there are many so called unskilled trades, like house-painting, carpentry, fruit-picking, even lawn-mowing, that require knowledge ,experience and intelligence, yet the people who work at them, and do a very good job, are economically disadvantaged because no college or university tells the world that their unique skill is a form of higher knowledge. Perhaps we ought to be grateful for this much : if ever 'unskilled laborer' need degrees to get jobs, we will all be in trouble ! The point is, however, is that these jobs are not unskilled, but are considered so.
  5. Anyone claiming to have these "higher" forms of knowledge but doesn't have a from an accredited university is generally assumed to be a fraud.
  6. Yet the truth is that a disturbingly large percentage of persons with the right degrees are incompetent within their professions! There are even some occupations in which persons without the right degrees may often be more competent. The time, dedication and labor they'd invested in the development of their abilities gave them insights into the solution of real problems, which persons hitting the textbooks in the schools never had the opportunity to develop.
This is a serious civil rights issue .It is manifestly illegitimate that the laws in a democracy should protect and maintain a mandarin class.

Here's what will happen if a mass movement develops around this issue:

    Thousands of people who formerly believed that they had no hope of finding work compatible with their abilities, will start militating, organizing , participating in marches and demonstrations, setting up test cases in the courts, committing civil disobedience and going to jail. The liberal academics, those who pride themselves as "champions of civilization", would suddenly bare their fangs, revealing to the whole world exactly what they are: beneficiaries of an obscene structure of privilege, status and caste. Many of these venerated teachers are nothing more than mediocre functionaries , who will stoop to any baseness to protect the lies that keep them respectable, secure and pensionable.

    However there are also many idealists among them> These will who will lend their support, going so far as to quit the system, though this may turn them into social pariahs until the movement achieves its goals.

One can list several reasons why such a movement, once it got off the ground, would quickly draw support from all classes of society

I would like to hear the opinions of as many people as possible about setting up an organization to mount a serious civil rights campaign against education discrimination. R L