In this multi-part article, I will describe the motivations and methods of the dominant forces in education reform circles, assess the consequences of those reforms, and sketch out an alternative to the complaints and demands of the major opponents of the dominant forces.
I ended the first article in this series by discussing the Department of Educations focus on closing old and opening new schools. Ill begin this second article by discussing the complementary focus on the marketization of school selection.
Unlike in the era of legal school segregation or in the long time periods in the United States when the more-or-less explicit tracking of children from different social strata into different educational pathways in the public schools was largely taken for granted as a desirable project, the pervasive educational inequalities of the moment are not the result of intentional policies.
Noel Ignatiev, the author of the following essay on Frederick Douglass, died on November 9th of this year. Although he had been ill, he wasnt expecting death in the immediate future. In fact, he was looking forward to the publication of the essay in The Brooklyn Rail. The brief period of time since his death has witnessed a good number of formal obituaries and less formal reminiscences in The New Yorker, Commune, and The New York Times, which provide both biographical facts and descriptions of his impact and influence on students, friends and political comrades. I will try not to repeat too much of what has already been written.
The paths to educational success and failure are set early in the lives of most children in the citys public schools, in their neighborhood elementary schools. Early differences matter a great deal.