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The Education Reform Movement: Reset Or Redo?

by -- June 12, 2012



I agree 100% with this. However, one thing that seems to be missing is more of an emphasis on how we go about intervening in the lives of poor families in ways that help them build human capital. Affordable housing was mentioned, but this is a vastly larger project. I like to think of the dynamic of human and societal capital. Societal capital, or an individual's environmental leverage, such as housing, is dynamic in its relation to human capital, an individual's innate leverage. Housing can create or deplete human capital. Poor communities struggle with depleted levels of both forms of capital, often creating an inescapable cycle of social disadvantage. As a teacher, I've seen my share of poor students with low levels of both types of capital. What I would like to see is a public education system that is able to scale up or down according to the needs of the individual child. This would mean spending 2-3x per pupil in one neighborhood as is spent in another. Smaller classes, teacher aides, counselors, social workers, etc. should all be on hand as option for intervention when needed. Capitalism is always going to create structural disadvantage. Economic segregation is going to create pools of lowered capital, which will self-perpetuate. But through a robust system of equal access to capital-enhancing institutions, we should be able to remediate much of the inequality.

Another intervention that is necessary is health care at early ages. I include in this good nutrition. If we have good pre-K programs, young children might be able to access good food for part of the day. We need to combine essential services in to one stop locations, education, social services, heaalth care, et al. The school could be a community center open many more hours a day than it is now in many communities and many summer months as well.

This is an important piece of writing. It reasserts the value of rational thought in an arena that is howling with ignorant and self-serving voices. If we are ever going to get back on track as a nation, this sort of thinking, particularly when it ties the institutions and the communities they serve together, is vital. Just to read sober, well-thought out thoughts in the public arena is encouraging right now.


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