Consider the breadth of school. There are 15,274 public school districts in the United States. In those schools are 41,838,871 students, 2,431,008 teachers. In addition there are about 1,400,000 non-teaching school workers such as bus drivers, cafeteria assistants, aides, mechanics and skilled trades people. Private schools house another 5,193,213 students and 354,638 teachers. Public school enrollment increased about 1.8 million since 1987. 2.5 million kids graduated from high school in 1991, another 2.5 million will graduate this year. The cost of education this year will be $5,097 per student, a bundle. (National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 1992 quoted in Education Week, 2-5-92)

Add to this total of nearly 44 million people directly affected by the public schools, the myriad of people whose income depends on school work or profits: book publishers (and bookmakers), builders, accountants, restauranteurs, social workers, food surplus workers, middle-class volunteers, clothing salespeople and manufacturers, landscapers and deveolpers (school districts spent $9.6 billion on construction projects in 1990--Education Week, 2-19-92) and finally, about 20 million people in the private school system. (NEA Research, 1990)

It's a lot. Neither the military, the tax system, nor welfare programs are more pervasive than school. And school sucks. Still, all these numbers, this incredible massed quantity of buildings, money, land, people, and publicity, combine to form a huge spectacle of education slammed daily into the public consciousness, a hollow spectacle full of magic and mythology drawn from long remembered experiences, but a phenomenon of limited substance and of real use, absent subversion, to but a tiny minority of citizens.