The Public School Gap

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Fact-esque points the way to an excellent post by Riggsveda on the U.S. education system, the “No Child Left Behind Act,” and the second-hand treatment given to inner city schools:

…despite Bush’s much ballyhooed “Texas miracle”, the situation seems to have been exacerbated by the kind of apartheid not seen in this country since 1965.

Anyone who lives or works in a big city made up of a diverse racial population can see it. The city schools have become darker and darker, while the suburbs and private schools fill up with white children.

In spite of the lip service given to the advance of civil rights issues over the last decades, the demographics of our schools give the lie to our insistence that equal opportunity is a done deal. As a nation we have ignored how schools and neighborhoods have slipped back into the Jim Crow look of the early 20th century, and we pretend that the inequalities between them have no basis in race.

As I live and work on Chicago’s South Side, the second-hand status of urban schools is painfully clear. And many Chicagoans will tell you that the real guts of the NCLB is not the emphasis on testing, but the push towards privatization of the public school system. NCLB encourages districts to turn over underperforming schools to private management firms. And in 2004, Chicago’s Mayor Daley announced plans to do just that – to close 60 local schools and open 100 new smaller ones (two-thirds of which will be non-union teachers).

At the end of the day, NCLB is actually encouraging the dismantling of the public education system and the first out the door it seems are the students that politicians don’t really want to think about.


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