The Left And Today’s Education Debate

Important essay by Leo Casey ostensibly responding to the vocal criticism of Bill Gates from left-leaning education activists but actually making a larger point. It’s must-reading for those interested in the through-the-looking glass world of edupolitics. Casey is a big wheel at the UFT in NYC though this essay is his own. Too long for Eduwonk to do it justice here, and Casey criticizes Gates and NCLB, too, so read the whole thing. Nonetheless, a couple of excerpts:

Bill Gates is not the issue. What should concern those of us on the American left is not that Gates has made some negative comments about American high schools, but that in so doing, he has outflanked “the left,” especially the “educational left,” from the left.

…That graduation rate for students of color is a national scandal, pure and simple. And the achievement gap which underlies that differentiation in graduation rates is a national scandal, pure and simple.

And yet an American left which once championed the cause of ending racial segregation in American public schools, of doing away with separate and unequal schools, is largely silent and inactive on these issues. Instead, it is Bill Gates who is speaking out, and who is giving his philanthropic money to efforts to remake and reform American high schools. So we attack Bill Gates? Denounce him as the “hit man” on public high schools?

Yes, we should be shouting “shame,” but on ourselves, not on him. The world’s richest man is more of an advocate for educational equity than we are, and that is our problem, not his.

…Will the epitaph of the American “educational left” be that we saw the world through the eyes of the well-to-do suburbs?

Junkies, for more in the same vein click here, here, here, and here. It’s an important conversation that is getting going in fits and starts.

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