“Does school reform perpetuate inequality?”… http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/24/does-school-reform-perpetuate-inequity/
The “south” surely has a lot of educational theoretical catching up to do (i.e. the importance of early childhood education, STEM education, and school guidance counseling, etc.) But it is in no way alone, or even the worst in the continuing saga of the mis-education of Black Children; I have found in many places in the south, a form of “equity of educational theoretical mediocrity”; that undermines the education of all children, regardless of race. There is however, enough blame to go around for the continued failure of our “northern” public educational systems; that primary serves the poor, and students of color. Culpable candidates for the line-up include: Elected officials/Educational policy makers; State Departments of Education; the poorly informed news media, looking for that simple “silver bullet”; Corrupt and/or overly politicized school boards (many of their ranks ironically look like the children they allegedly serve); labor unions that were, and still are resistant to professionalizing their ranks; (which means the self-action of removing the incompetent bad players and dead beats from the ranks of their craft.) One of the reasons that public education became ripe for corporate reform take-over were those silly scenes like we had in NYC of the “rubber rooms”; centers filled with people most of whom quite honestly should have been fired, and moved as far away from children as possible; instead people saw them spending years at full salary and benefits doing nothing all day. To the average person who had to go out each day and physically work for a living, this somehow did not feel right. And asking the public annually to give us more money, did not help! Citizens who opted for “unchecked mayoral control”, clearly did not pay attention in World History Classes, where we were taught that turning over total power out of fear in a crisis has never worked. We were all too tired, too frustrated and looked too low for a solution. We became too timid, too intellectually lazy, or just too complacent to honestly ask one simple hard question: “is this (Reform stuff) working?” It is so fitting, and ironic that this question is being raised in the month when we “celebrate” Black History. This “reform” movement, utilizing a twisted version of a very positive Peace Corps ( “undeveloped” Black and Latino American students treated to a form of ‘foreign assistance’); are doing the greatest amount of damage to the largest number of children, not in the south, but in the urban north. Their entrance into public education was fueled by a very slow economy that could not absorb the annual production of White college graduates; and the clear opportunity on the part of the corporate community to siphon off the huge amounts of funds generated by pubic education. Particularly those huge amounts produced by “failing/underachieving” student. There is a terrible underlying belief that they (the reformers) are the sole hope of salvation for the “poor suffering Negro” (children). The parents of these students; and educators for which they are culturally linked; either don’t care, or are unable to educate them. This “reform” movement has consciously dismissed (and holds as a theoretical foundation) the advice of experienced Black educators who have succeeded with children of color under extremely trying and challenging conditions. Many of those Black American educational thinkers (Carter G. Woodson, Lorraine Monroe, James Comer, Ronald Edmonds, Lisa Delpit, Adelaide Sanford, Frank Mickens and Lonetta Gaines to name a few) have built a wealthy theoretical academic achievement resource library. It was important therefore to establish (unheard of in any other profession) that certification, professional theoretical knowledge and experience (Praxis) were now, unimportant. The fact that the “reform” measures have not produced any significant academic achievement (without cheating on exams); suggest that, perhaps “this work” was not as simple as everyone assumed it to be. We are asked to wait and watch for the arrival of a Superman; when a “super teacher” already taught us so much about the power of creating a culture of high expectations, arrived in the person of Jaime Escalate (Stand and Deliver) The problem has been simplistically deduced, because of their lack of practical front line knowledge to three main themes: (1) Test students (2) Eliminate Unions (3) Close traditional public schools, and turn children into commodities for the purpose of profit. All of these three items serve not as solutions but as educational theoretical “fillers”; as a cover for a true lack of pedagogical knowledge. They exist to fill the gaps in the understanding of what it really takes to create, a true school system of equity of expectations and excellence; and they are a cynical move to commoditize public education. What the south may lack in educational theory and social equality; is matched in the north with sneaky “hidden/open” segregation of educational opportunities, expectations, resources and better teachers between White students and the students of color. Along with the debilitating theoretical apartheid of the school improvement movement.