Recently, Marilee Jones, MIT’s dean of admissions, was discovered to have lied on her application regarding her educational qualifications. Upon being accused, she resigned from her post, and MIT is planning on replacing her with a more “qualified” applicant. The most striking part of this event, however, is that Jones served 10 years before ever being caught in her lie!
Her service record was impeccable. If not for an anonymous tip, she never would have been caught at all. Some students weren’t even sure if she should lose her job, given her outstanding performance.
While no one in their right mind would suggest that lying on an application is a good idea or excusable (especially if this were a more sensitive position, like a nuclear plant operator), there is an important lesson to learn from the treatment of Jones.
Class societies often depend on hierarchical structures. In capitalism, education is one of the hierarchical categorizers. Educated workers and uneducated workers compete for influence and power, not to mention pay, and educated workers almost always win, creating a level of tension between these subdivisions of the working class. Less educated workers are essentially told they “wouldn’t know what they are doing,” without any analysis of their actual skills. Background is placed before ability, and such a system leads people like Jones to lie about attending two elite colleges in order to pad her resume and improve her chances of being hired.
In spite of her dishonesty, however, Jones performed her job excellently. Yes, she did not have the “proper” qualifications, but she did have the practical “qualifications” that enabled her to do her job — and did it extremely well. Capitalists like to use educational systems to sort out their best possible lackeys, and filter out undesirables. This is one reason that private education is of such high quality and so costly — only the wealthier families’ children (who are much likelier to be cooperative with the way things work) climb the ladder into meaningful positions. This also helps fuel the racial divide, keeping poorer minorities out.
Class and racial barriers are evident in the current system of educational and administrative hierarchies. While unthinkable in today’s system, socialism will be a time when we break with old ideas and embrace what might seem to be unconventional in pursuit of a better society. Empowering the common people to perform duties they are capable of, particularly in the sphere of management and administration, will be an important goal of a workers’ state, as will increasing educational opportunities for those who were excluded before. This event at MIT is simply a reminder of the inefficiencies of capitalism, and what we might be able to one day do about them.
Martin Droll (marx2martin @aol.com) is a high school student in Cambridge, Ohio