Friday, April 24, 2015

The Tipping Point of Inequality

Wow. Just wow, Matt Bruenig, writing on our growing education dystopia where poor kids get boot camps and constant testing while better-off kids get art, science, sports, and music:

What's so dystopian about this, initially, is that child poverty and inequality are problems of our own making. Charter school advocates, often because of their conservative temperament, assume child poverty in the background as if it is some natural feature of life. But in reality, the uniquely sky-high child poverty levels seen in the US are a function of the country's uniquely bad economic institutions....

[Followed by a short series of Bruenigian graphs to demonstrate U.S. child poverty and general inequality compared to other developed nations.]

All of this is to say that our child poverty crisis is basically a choice we've made as a society. You pick high-child-poverty economic institutions, and lo and behold, you get high child poverty.
And then there's the part about educational methods:
What this means that we are effectively, at step one, deciding it's pretty cool to go ahead and put huge swaths of the country's children into poverty or near poverty. Then the resulting inequalities of that decision end up so severe that, at step two, we decide ... that the poor kids and the rich kids cannot even go to the same schools with one another. What's worse, we decide that the poor kids (who again are poor because of our inegalitarian system) must go to hellish-sounding boot camp schools for most of their waking childhood life while the rich kids go to much more relaxed schools with greater subject diversity and freedom.

If this Poor Methods theory ends up playing out, truly imagine how dystopian it could get. I can't get out of my head the vision of two schools sitting right by one another. The children of retail and food service workers file into the school using the harsh Poor Methods while the children of professionals and managers file into the school using the relaxed Rich Methods. Then I imagine having to explain to kids as they file into their segregated schools why they have to go through one door rather than the other: "well you see, our system makes it such that some people have a lot while others have very little."....

When you get to the point where your social inequality is so high that 6-year-olds of different classes can't go to school together, you've hit a tipping point that should make you pause and reconsider how screwed up things really are. 
 Yes. That is where we have gotten ourselves.

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