Sunday, November 1, 2009

Racism and Education Reform

A question for all you foundations experts.

On another blog we were having a discussion about the relationship between racism/classism and the belief that education reform is the key to social and economic change for the poor. I wondered whether a focus on education reform is a PC way for liberals to sublimate their racist/classist assumptions, consciously or not. And I wondered whether this association helps explain the incredible unresponsiveness of liberals to basic facts about education reform (like the fact that evaluating academic achievement in poor schools with standardized tests is deadly).

Are education reform in its current form and the "education gospel" more generally, representative of a kind of new "white person's burden" and imperialism?

In a sense, focusing on education as the "solution" to anything at least partly entails "blaming the victim." If education is the solution, then there must be something about someone that is inadequate and needs to be "fixed." A focus on education inherently implies that the "problem" is with those who are being educated (and can't seem to learn).

Who has talked about this?

Some relevant data from the discussion:
But the General Social Survey asks about 4 different explanations for why blacks are less successful economically. . . . [T]hose who give all internal explanations (blaming blacks for their lack of success) tend to blame lack of education less than 1/3 of the time: 28.1% to 71.9%. But those who give all external explanations (blaming discrimination, not blaming "lack of will") blame lack of education 3/4ths of the time: 75.0% to 25.0%.
--Paul Rosenberg (scroll down)

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