First, we got a Boy Meets World reboot, then Fuller House, and then we got the news that there will be a Lizzie McGuire reboot at the end of this year. What more could a nostalgic millennial ask for? A Saved By The Bell reboot, that’s what.
As it turns out, wishes do come true. NBC recently announced that it will include a Saved By The Bell reboot on its new streaming platform Peacock in 2020. Not too much is known about the show except that Zack Morris is California’s Governor and (everyone’s favorite feminist) Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater are new parents.
The synopsis of the show also says that it will “[explore] what happens when California Gov. Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools and proposes the affected students be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state — including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over-privileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality.”
While this plot sounds like a perfect situation for some classic Saved By The Bell shenanigans, it also touches on a real-life pain-point of students in public schools all over the US.
A 2017 study found that in the 2013-2014 school year, public schools received around 9% of their total funding from the federal government, 46% from the state government, and 45% from their local government — 80% of which came directly from property taxes.
Why does school funding matter? Because low-income schools are typically the ones with the lowest performance rating (or grade). While every state has different standards that go into its school-grading system, academic performance is usually a major factor. This state-given grade is generally a consideration for parents when they are deciding where to settle down and raise their family. Since parents often want their kids to go to high-performing schools, the demand for the homes zoned for those schools increases, which means prices and property tax increase, which results in those schools getting more funding.
Additionally, the grades that are assigned to every school are often based on performance on standardized tests. These multiple-choice tests have never been great at gauging the intelligence and growth of any child, but they are particularly misleading for low-income students because they obviously don’t take into account privilege or support (or lack-there-of) at home.
Basically, the students whose families can already afford tutors, academic camps, high-end technology, and extracurriculars also get the most funding sent to their schools. This means that these students get better facilities, updated textbooks, and newer computers/tablets than the kids in lower-income schools whose families often have to rely on programs to simply feed their kids breakfast and lunch and certainly can’t afford the luxury of a tutor.
This blatant inequality can set kids up for failure when they are as young as 5 or 6 years old. By telling a school full of kids that they aren’t performing well academically and not providing them the resources to improve that performance, many of them will eventually just give up and accept defeat. Meanwhile, the students who already have it good will continue to grow academically, which will allow them to have more opportunities (or handouts; we’re looking at you, Aunt Becky) down the road.
The current school funding system is designed in a way that it will continue to drive a wedge between income classes. Public education is a right for every child growing up in the United States, not a privilege. Unfortunately, since poverty is not a protected class, inequity within public education based on a family’s income isn’t considered unconstitutional.
While Gov. Morris has the right idea, to wipe the slate clean and give everyone in the low-income schools the same public education as the kids in the high-end neighborhoods, this is a much larger mess that needs to be fixed. Rather than shutting down low-income schools, funding needs to be evenly distributed so that there aren’t elite public schools in the first place. One student should not be less deserving of a good education simply because they happened to be born into the wrong zip code.
So, instead of wishing and hoping for more nostalgic show reboots, maybe millennials should start asking for a public education system reboot. Perhaps this reboot can be more in line with that of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, where its roots are still there but everything about it is better and stronger than the original.