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Media: What The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next

 Yau Hoong Tang FlickrThe New Yorker's Rebecca Mead weighed in on the Common Core standardized testing debate with a blog post claiming that poor parents were also opposed to the testing and wanted to opt out while at the same time lamenting the fact that so many New York City parents send their kids to private schools.  If there were more wealthy parents in the public system, there would be more protest, according to Mead. 

I'm not sure those two arguments really go together, and I'm not sure it's particularly useful to have the New Yorker assign a writer who's a parent at a school deeply involved in opting out be the one to communicate to the larger world about the complicated issue of testing and accountability.  

Or at least ask her to write about more challenging topics like Elizabeth Warren's denunciation of housing-based school assignments that benefit the relatively well-off. (Ditto Ravitch, ditto Strauss, ditto Simon.)

But that's not really the point of this post.   

My real purpose is to persuade you to read this recent Slate article about racial preferences (in online dating and more generally), which points out among other things that discrimination isn't usually overt and explicit:

"Whites tend to help other whites without ever discriminating against or behaving cruelly toward blacks and other nonwhites... whites, like all people, will do more to help family, friends, and acquaintances than strangers will tend to entrench racial inequality, provided that white people choose to associate primarily with other whites." 

This is, to me, what gets too often lost in the critique of the school reform movement: the self-perpetuating problems of the system that precedes reform and remains largely in place despite all efforts to loosen its lock on privilege, money, and information.  

For every problem and flaw of the reform movement that can be highlighted -- and there's no shortage of these -- there are to my view five or ten deeper, more structural problems in the current system still dominated by neighborhood assignment, local property taxes, mis-distribution of teachers among schools, etc. 

One of the main issues that reform criticsm seems to ignore is what one recent Nation article dubbed the "unbearable whiteness" of the progressives who like to find fault with reform ideas and approaches.  And, as the Slate article notes, in-group preferences and privilege are a key dynamic that has to be addressed as much as anything else.  


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