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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Petrilli's Embarrassing Post about Poor Mothers Being "Bad"

This post is embarrassing—both for the content and the fact that Petrilli appears unaware how embarrassing it is.

Single-mothers are not "bad"; they are overwhelmed.

Education is not to create economically self-sufficient people (that serves the privileged who feed off the economy). Education's goals are much BIGGER than that—self-awareness and complete autonomy, within which economic self-sufficiency is a part.

Petrilli and his ilk will not and possibly cannot admit that poverty is the product of either the negligence or intent of the powerful in any nation.

Poverty is not the product of those in poverty, and cannot be the result of the powerless.

And to continue to focus the gaze about poverty on those trapped in poverty and on education as the only or main mechanism for eradicating poverty is ultimately the greatest failure of all—and a disturbing lesson about the failure of the privileged as capable of addressing equity from their positions of privilege.

Petrilli needs to add to his reading list:

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much






1 comment:

  1. Two things about reactionaries like Petrilli who have to keep their "who is John Galt" worldview under wraps whenever they write on these issues.

    First, their real ideology inevitably seeps out. In a way it's refreshing because the right-wing is much more honest about the goals and underlying ideology of neoliberal reform project than their so-called liberal counterparts are. Moreover, Petrilli speaks on behalf of the entire ruling class when he cites economic "self-sufficiency" is the purpose of education. That's what the exploitive "college and career ready" mantra is all about -- reproducing the next generation of labor to extract surplus value from. Broad wants to create that more efficiently, Gates more "scientifically" (in scare quotes because his idea of science is equivalent to phrenology), and the Waltons, Scaifes, Bradleys, DeVos, Kochs, et al who are just are old fashioned exploiters and profiteers.

    Secondly, Petrilli honestly speaks for all reformers. Kopp, Rhee, Duncan, and others would deny it, but ultimately they're saying the same thing as Petrilli. My first Schools Matter piece was a reprint of an essay I wrote about so-called progressive Matthew Ygelsias. In Ygelsias' exchanges with Rachel Levy he talks about the assimilation of students attending factories of cultural sterilization* like KIPP, who are learning to conform to "bourgeois norms." While he doesn't explicitly mention race, it's all too obvious that he's speaking to race given KIPP's enrollment. Like Petrilli, Ygelsias is saying that there are bad mothers, and he goes further, he's insinuating there's bad cultures. At the end of the day both Ygelsias and Petrilli are saying the same thing, and I'd posit that those two comprise the entire spectrum of thought on the neoliberal reformers' side. There may be minor differences in style, but substantively, they're arguing for the same thing.

    Those of us who believe the purpose of education is, as in Professor P.L. Thomas' words, "self-awareness and complete autonomy," pose a great threat in that we're arguing for something deeper. While the corporate neoliberal education reformer's goal is to create the next generation of workers -- college educated or otherwise -- to exploit, we're arguing to create people aware of their own agency, and their ability to transform this world where exploitation is the abject engine of our economic system.

    * Professor Jim Horn coined the phrase "cultural sterilization," which describes nearly all of the large, "no excuses," inner-city corporate charter CMOs perfectly.