Education Reform in a Nutshell

Education Reform in a Nutshell

A Chance To Make History by Wendy Kopp 2011, published by Public Affairs.

This is more of a critique of education reform as much as it is a critique of this book.

Wendy Kopp is the founder of Teach for America. This is kind of like the Peace Corps for education, except with pay.

“These gaps [in reading and math levels] impact African-American, Latino, and Native American students most severely because they are more likely than Caucasian students to face the challenges of poverty.” (4)

They are trying to make the point that poverty causes an inability to learn and that educating those in poverty will get them out of poverty.

Percentage-wise yes they are more likely to be in poverty but not shear numbers. Here is my logic.

From the data found in the 2013 Census, a 3-year average of percent in poverty by race:

Whites  12.3%.
Blacks  27.3%.
Latinos 24.8%.
Indians  25%. Includes Eskimos.
Asians   11.6%?  (I have seen where they are 13% in poverty.).

With an estimated 2014 US population of about 319 million the percentage of US population by race:

Whites  62.6%.
Blacks  13.2%.
Latinos 17.1%.
Indians    1.2%. Includes Eskimos.
Asians     5.2%.

This accounts for 99.3% of US population.

Therefore, the number of people in poverty by race is:

62.6% of 319 million is 199.694 Million and 12.3% of that is 24,562,362 Whites in poverty.

13.2% of 319 Million is 42.108 Million and 27.3% of that is 11,495,484 Blacks in poverty.

17.1% 319 Million is 54.549 Million and 24.8% of that is 13,528,152 Latinos in poverty.

1.2% of 319 Million is 3.828 Million and 25% of that is 957,000 Indians in poverty.

5.2% of 319 Million is 16.588 Million and 11.6% of that is 1,924,208 Asians are in poverty.

Blacks and Hispanics total 25,023,636 or just over the number of Whites in poverty by about 500,000.

But there are more Whites in poverty than any other group.

I see no help for Whites or Asians in poverty being even considered.

You worry too much about rates and not about sheer number of people suffering.

A grand total of 52,467,206 people in poverty, given the list above. When you use percentages it sounds bad but when you look at the sheer number of people in poverty is it horrendous. Over 50 million in poverty, in the richest country in the world, is a crime against humanity.

Also, the economy and therefore poverty has little, if anything, to do with education of the masses (education in the macro). In a recent PISA test a country in poverty did better than the US. This would suggest that poverty does NOT cause an inability to learn and that educating the young does not necessarily lead to a booming economy.

“High School dropouts have three times the unemployment rate of college graduates.” (4)

Perhaps but most of the jobs in this country can be done easily by high school dropouts. It is the unfair stigmatism that gets associated with dropouts that keeps them or makes them unemployed and not the lack of knowledge. Also, they are in places that do not have jobs. Most are in inner cities. Jobs are kind of scarce now anyway.

A high school diploma is really NOT needed. The Truman Commission Report, in 1947, had that wrong too. They counseled that because of the A-bomb (or technology) we needed to educate our kids more, as if, we studied the A-bomb or technology exclusively in junior high and high school.

As an example, the US military is very big on having high school graduates as recruits sometimes even to the point of not accepting GED recipients. They will not take a high school dropout. I think that this changed in the mid-1980s. I went into the US Coast Guard in 1974, as a high school dropout. Today it is the hardest branch of the military to get into. I assume it was then, too. I had to score higher than a high school graduate on the NAVBAT tests, one of the precursors of the ASVAB test adopted service-wide in 1976, I believe.

I assume that their logic is the military is more technical now. More computers etc., therefore more schooling is needed to operate them. This could not be further from the truth. Computers make it easier to do things. Less schooling is necessary, not more. The military had finally caught up with the Truman Report?

Also, there are college graduates doing the jobs not being done by high school dropouts where the jobs do exist. There are 54.5% of all college graduates are NOT in jobs that require a college degree. They are under-employed. They are in retail sales and other jobs that dropouts could be doing. I wonder what the college unemployment numbers would be if we count underemployment as unemployment? And count those who have given up looking for work as unemployed, too. That would give us a fairer picture of the economy and education and the relationship between the two.

The stigmatization must be changed not the education. Some economists have said that we cannot educate ourselves back to a strong middle-class and we should stop trying. This last part is mine.

Why do the reformists/progressives always use rates of this or that instead of sheer numbers? Is it because it sounds so impressive? It may be that they think that is not fair for one group to have a bigger percent of anything when compared to another group? Perhaps they are right but it is not practical.

Society is full of such inequities. Employment in almost all industries in our society is not the same as the racial demographics. Employment should be based on ability and not any physical feature.

Practicability is one of the characteristics of a sound ethical principle. This means if it puts too much of a strain on agents (the people that have to live with it) then it should be considered unethical. If it is not practical then it should be discarded.

I would imagine that only in the United States do we even concern ourselves with this.

So far as the book itself goes. I feel that their so-called accomplishments are NOT important, as I have said that education of the masses does NOT affect the economy for good or for bad, including poverty much so they are wasting their time and just giving people false hope. And they spend time on the minorities more than on most of those in poverty, the biggest chunk as it were.

Regardless of who they (Teach for America or education reformers/progressives) concentrate on it does not matter in the long run. We have roughly the same percentage of people in poverty, since the war on poverty was declared in the 1960s. With more population that means we actually have more people in poverty now compared to 50 years ago.

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