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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dr. King Left Behind

As Washington's corporate jet is filling up on both sides of the aisle in preparation for a new flight of educational fancy, it seems appropriate to suggest a name for the new flight plan for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that was most recently titled No Child Left Behind.

"Dr. King Left Behind" seems to me an entirely appropriate designation, as it represents the obvious intent of those who have come to believe, or to weakly pretend as much, that the continued use of racist and standardized tests represents the primary civil rights strategy of the 21st Century.  To see the NAACP and the National Urban League line up behind Education Mistrust, the United Negroes College Fund, and Easter Seals?? in support of another generation of "Broken Windows" school policy based on manufactured failure and corporate solutions, is enough to make, even accommodationist like Booker T Washington, roll over in his grave.

In advocating for another generation of harsher versions of the same harsh segregating solvents for children, teachers, and schools alike, we see receding in the distance the scene of Dr. King escorting children into segregated Little Rock schools in 1957, where the 101st Airborne Division was required to make sure children weren't lynched for demanding something more than a segregated and unequal education.

We see receding in the distance the Pettus bridge and the struggle to assure voting rights, as lawyers for the ACLU and the NAACP line up to demand every child's right to be tested every year in order to demonstrate that the achievement gaps are growing wider as our insistence on more testing grows deeper.

We see moving below the horizon Dr. King's march to support the garbage workers of Memphis, now as the neolibs join arms with neocons to pretend that free college educations will be provided to kids who have learned nothing more than how to bubble tests in the prior 12 years of lockdown schools.  Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage remains far below its 1968 peak, the same year an assassin made sure that all that Dr. King fought for could begin to move into the background.

The big question now:  will we see the grandchildren of the hundreds of thousands of the black and proud Marchers on Washington treated with psychological experiments aimed to immunize hungry kids with PTSD from the effects of poverty so that their test scores can demonstrate to Washington's elite that being poor is irrelevant to achieving "equally"?

Will we see Dr. King's Dream shift into another neo-eugenic nightmare?

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