Wednesday, August 24, 2005

American Apartheid 

Jonathan Kozol has written an excellent article (Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid) in the Sept 2005 issue of Harper’s magazine. He follows the effects that the federal judiciary’s dismantling of the mandates of the Brown decision over the past two decades have had on primary and secondary schools in poor areas. For those who want an understanding of how their poorer students (college or otherwise) think or learn to think, I recommend this article.

An excerpt: Jonathan writes:

“Childhood is not merely basic training for utilitarian adulthood. It should have some claims upon our mercy, not for its future value to the economic interests of competitive societies but for its present value as a perishable piece of life itself.

“Very few people who are not involved with inner-city schools have any real idea of the extremes to which the mercantile distortion of the purposes and character of education have been taken or how unabashedly proponents of these practices are willing to defend them. The head of a Chicago school, for instance, who was criticized by some for emphasizing rote instruction that, his critics said, was turning children into ‘robots,’ found no reason to dispute the charge. ‘Did you ever stop to think that these robots will never burglarize your home?’ he asked, and ‘will never snatch your pocketbooks....[sic] These robots are going to be producing taxes.”

And how does the mercantile school prepare its students against becoming cogs on the labor end of gross capitalism? Jonathan writes:

“In all the various business-driven inner-city classrooms I have observed in the past five years, plastered as they are with corporation brand names and managerial vocabularies, I have yet to see the two words ‘labor unions.’ Is this an oversight? How is that possible?”

Will Esposito

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