"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Obama's Education Policy Stuck Between Coddling the Rich and Containing the Poor

The New York Times reports that Obama's Justice and Education Departments have jointly offered new guidance for interpreting recent racist decisions by conservative federal courts in ways that give colleges and universities wiggle room for efforts intended to increase diversity in higher education and K-12 populations.  That's the good news.  At the same time, Obama and Co. continue to stand squarely behind racist and classist accountablility and sorting systems that these same schools, colleges, and universities use to determine who gets into a real brick and mortar college, and who gets shoved into an online and for-profit diploma mill with open, really open, admissions.  

At this point, we must wonder, in fact, if any of recent efforts to rein in the Phoenixes and Kaplans from boiler room recruitment tactics will even survive the legal and lobbying resistance campaign by these newest billionaire capitalist ventures who prey on the poorest citizens while draining away federal money intended to help the poor get a college degree. Faced with an election system set up by the Roberts Court to assure governance by the highest bidder, legislators in Washington are waiting for their chance to become an honorary Phoenix by accepting cash to shut down any federal efforts to reform the most exploitative higher education education system ever devised.

And, yes, the Times reports that there's new advice, too, from Eric at Justice and Arne at ED on the K-12 front:
For kindergarten through 12th grade, the guidelines tell school districts that they can shape policies on locating schools, drawing attendance boundaries and governing student transfers to achieve a better racial mix. For example, a school district with two elementary schools with distinctly different demographics could consider making one school serve kindergarten through second grade and the other grades 3 to 5 in order to force a better mix. 
Really?  That's it?  Any funding for these "creative" solutions to the resegregation of American K-12 schools?

Not with the Gates, Broad, and Walton folks running ED.  Instead, we have hundreds of millions for seeding efforts to create more segregated charter schools programs based on total compliance pedagogy and constant testing, for providing federal support for segregated charter school building and real estate deals, for creating miseducative corporate cyber schools, and for increasing alternative certification programs that put the least prepared and least experienced teachers into the new corporate welfare charters that eat the poor.

On this last point, a new federal report this past week documents that "schools serving low-income students get less state and local money for teacher salaries than schools serving higher-income students."  That's an important find, but what is the Team Obama strategy for dealing with this disparity?  To encourage school systems to bring in Teach for America two-year temps and to pay TFA a $5,000 bonus for each minimally prepared teacher per year who must spend the first year learning to teach on poor people's children.

And so it is that we graduate from "Change We Can Believe In" to four years later, "Change Is."  Why is it that every time I say "change is" that it sounds just like "shit happens."

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