Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is the Atmosphere in Low Income Communities "Toxic?"- Two Different Visions of Urban School Reform

Urban School Reform,as it has been promoted by the Obama Administration, and implemented in almost city in the nation. is based on the assumption that poor neighborhoods, poor schools, and poor families are toxic, preventing young people "trapped" within them from achieving success in a dynamic and progressive society which provides limitless opportunity for trained people. If you follow that logic, closing long established public schools, firing their staffs, and replacing them with charters who staffs are "untainted" by neighborhood culture makes perfect sense. That's the only way to free children from cultural influences which will pull them down and prevent them from realizing their potential

But what if that basic assumption is wrong. What if the main source of "toxicity" in the society is elites who monopolize the nation's wealth, control its political system, and keep wages and compensation artificially low for the majority of the society's population? If that is the case, what School Reform does is put a once public resource at the disposal of elites for as a source of profitable investment without significantly expanding opportunity for the young people in it.

If the US is a basically healthy, well governed society whose poor neighborhoods are centers of dysfunction; then shuting down schools and starting over might make sense. But if the US is an Oligarchy, ruled by selfish, ruthless elites, then closing schools is a clever ruse to further disorganize the poor and make them unable to fight for a fair share of the nation's resources.

Which analysis do you think is right?