By Andrew Pillow
Education is as hot a topic as it has ever been. People from all sides and all professions are weighing in on the “problems of public education”.
David C. Berliner of Equity Alliance addresses some of the common misconceptions about public education in the United States and even proposes some solutions. Here is an excerpt from his piece:
“So what does this teach us? We learn that in the US, wealthy children attending public schools that serve the wealthy are competitive with any nation in the world. Since that is the case why would anyone think our public schools are failing?
When compared to other nations some of our students and some of our public schools are not doing well. But having “some” failures is quite a different claim than one indicting our entire public school system. Furthermore, in the schools in which low-income students do not achieve well, we find the common correlates of poverty: low birth weight in the neighborhood, higher than average rates of teen and single parenthood, residential mobility, absenteeism, crime, and students in need of special education or English language instruction. These problems of poverty influence education and are magnified by housing policies that foster segregation. Over the years, in many communities, wealthier citizens and government policies have managed to consign low-income students to something akin to a lower caste. The wealthy have cordoned off their wealth. They hide behind school district boundaries that they often draw themselves, and when they do so, they proudly use a phrase we all applaud, “Local Control!” The result, by design, is schools segregated by social class, and that also means segregation by race and ethnicity. We have created an apartheid-lite, separate and unequal, system of education. “