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Campaign 2012: Ignoring Inequality, Missing Opportunity

Tumblr_lz5runbtCz1qdl9dfo1_500There's a long New Yorker article you might find useful to read about why income inequality hasn't emerged as a powerful policy or political issue despite its massive growth in recent years.  The collapse of Occupy Wall Street, single issue advocacy efforts, and infighting among groups with different responses to income inequality are some of the main factors, according to writer Nick Lemann.  

Reading through it, I thought about how sad it is that the two main education factions --  both deeply concerned about equalizing educational opportunity -- are spending so much of their time and energy attacking each other and defending themselves rather than banding together to fight against the status quo.  Both sides are to blame, of course -- reformers for abandoning wraparound services & being tone deaf on societal and economic issues during a recession, reform critics for letting themselves be convinced that the folks they disagree with were mortal enemies rather than merely obnoxious and somewhat misguided allies.  

It occurs to me that it's been a difficult struggle for reformers in particular to come to terms with the reality that education is not longer the route out of poverty that it once might have been -- that economic mobility is no longer a hallmark of American society. Some elements of society are better than they were 20 years ago -- violence, teen pregnancy -- but social mobility is way down and inequality is way up. You can hear in the rhetoric from the reform folks that they haven't fully absorbed that yet.

It's possible that the economy will recover and the campaign will be over before anyone figures out a way for reformers and educators and parents to form a powerful coalition for change.  But studies like this recent Brookings Institute report and articles that have been written off of it (Living near a good school will cost an extra $205,000Education For Poor Students Threatened By Exclusionary Housing Policies, Report Says) are a constant reminder of all that's being left out of the current policy and political debate over education, and of the crisis that reformers and reform opponents together seem to be letting let go to waste.    


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Unfortunately, bullying is still a problem in today's schools and, due to the emotional toll inflicted upon the victim, can and will impede the learning process of that student. I was bullied as a child and hold in disdain anyone who choose to follow that path. I believe that the school's administration is ultimately responsible for the safety of all the students who adorn those walls and must create an environment that is both safe and conducive to learning for its student. Therefore, if the school is made aware of a bullying situation and fail to take immediate corrective action, then the school should be held financially liable for any harm that comes to the student being bullied.

No, people who intend to destroy public education -- and people whose sole goal is to profit from the issue, such as Michelle Rhee and Ben Austin -- are NOT allies in any form. I know you can scoff at us and say oh, no, they just want to help, but we're not naive and we're not stupid, Alexander.

Neither is he, Caroline. I think these shallow pieties are meant to soothe the thousands of more sensitive reformist hacks who, like himself, have taken jobs promoting the whole edumonopoly takover drive.

As its real nature becomes unavoidably clear, they're understandably sick of themselves.

In the real news, Pearson has taken over the GED, so it can double the price and align it to the Common Core. My favorite quote: "One is always concerned about a monopoly".

This is Microsoft's longest long game. It will be one for the history books, Alexander, and you're on the wrong side.

righteous and misguided is an ugly combination... as are angry character attacks. if you wish to keep commenting here please try and make comments that are constructive or informed. if not, we'll, there are plenty of other places to be repetitive and venomous.

Attack politics, sadly, isn’t just plaguing education. Everywhere you look, parties attack parties, people attack people, and it’s resulted in the least progressive era of American Politics in our nation’s history. It’s just not acceptable at a time like this, with so many social divides and unaddressed issues to tackle.

Maybe my experience is slanted living in the Bay Area and all, and obviously I can't speak for the most prominent national reformers, but the reformy types I know are all staunchly Democratic, liberal-minded sorts who, when not talking about education specifically, sound basically like your run-of-the-mill progressives. Hopefully a national election with a stark choice will make education a little less salient and remind all of us liberals that we are, in fact, mostly on the same side.

"Shallow pieties" and "sensitive reformist hacks" doesn't exactly qualify as hate speech. These are hard times, and people took paying jobs where they could get them. How would they not? The "reformists" have jobs to hand out, and the actual educators and parents are outcasts, "Ravitch's rabble", to quote one pundit.

Yeah, Paul, I found myself standing around a table in the Berkeley Hills recently with a glass of chardonnay in my hand, with the various grandchildren of the left intelligentsia faced off against each other.

Their granddaddy stood up to HUAC, and guess what? They're coming over, paycheck be damned. So can anybody, and we're going to keep asking our people to choose sides.

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