Ideas: Putting Education In Its Place
What if we somehow managed to substantially improve public education or even reduce childhood poverty -- and it wasn't enough? Until recently, the assumption has been that if schools could be made to work better, and if poverty or at least its effects could be lessened, then all would be well and good. But that kind of thinking might not hold any longer what with the scads of college graduates we keep churning out into an economy that can't absorb them -- not to speak of an ongoing recession, growing economic inequities, and the likelihood of a Republican-controlled Congress in 2012. It's an issue that reform opponents have raised in various ways in the past, and is highlighted in Christopher Peha's new Harper's article about the University of Phoenix. "Educating a workforce doesn’t change what jobs are available to society as a whole," he observes. "Our treatment of education as a social panacea...allows us to ignore entrenched class differences and the root causes of inequality in America." In particular, Peha cites Class Dismissed (Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality), a recent book by a young English professor named John Marsh, which is written up in Urbanite Magazine (here) that others may already have heard about but was new to me. Yes, now you have to fix the economy as well as education and poverty.