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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

ESEA and the New Jim Crow Schools

A few years back Michelle Alexander wrote an amazing book, The New Jim Crow. . ., that remains so relevant today.  It is about a new form of exclusion, segregation, and separation of African-Americans based on racist policing and "justice" systems that incarcerate and then turn black men, in particular, into lifelong "untouchables" who are kept from participating in voting, legitimate employment, educational opportunities, and even public housing.

Today we have a minor league farm system for this adult form of institutionalized dehumanization, and like the adult version, it is fully embraced by the same politicians who have long supported tough justice, three strikes policies, and hard time for adult offenders of even the most petty, nonviolent crimes.  The minor league version is, of course, the No Excuse charter school system of penal education for oppressed young African American and Latino children.

Today Diane Ravitch had a post about Arne Duncan's children attending the progressive Chicago Lab School, and she rhetorically sighed as she wondered just "what if" Arne wanted the same kind of great schools children other than his own and the Obamas.  The Lab School, of course, has none of the surveillance, punishing pedagogy, anti-cultural curriculum, robot behavioral codes, and all-round dehumanization that is common in the charter schools that Duncan and Obama promote and fund with billions of public dollars.

Has Ravitch's anti-reformy conversion left her unable to remember the paternalist "broken windows" policies that she, the Hooverites, the Fordhamites, and the Business Roundtable all encouraged for social institutions that serve the poor and the oppressed.  Does she really believe that Arne Duncan doesn't know what he is doing as he works overtime to create dehumanizing schools for black and brown children?  Schools that Arne, Rahm, or Barack would never ever allow for their own children.

Is Ravitch waiting for Obama and Bush III to see the error of their ways?  Why does she pretend to castigate Duncan for his support of penal pedagogy for the poor, even as she fully embraces the ESEA school privatization plan that Lamar Alexander is now shepherding through Congress, the same plan that will make the current charter hell schools look like Club Med when compared to what is coming if this ESEA becomes law.

Why does she not admit that she believes that poor children deserve to be policed rather than taught, controlled rather than encouraged, silenced rather than allowed to discover their voices?  If she doesn't believe these things, why is she promoting policies that make them mandatory for the disadvantaged?  Ravitch and Weingarten deserve to be friends; they share the same capacity to obfuscate, dissemble, and pretend that keeps them as leaders of the pretend resistance.

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