Sunday, November 27, 2011

Forget Wall Street. Go Occupy Your Local School District

A GREAT article by Andy Rotherham on where the Occupy Wall St. folks should be focusing their attention:

It's easy to get angry at banks and CEOs, especially as more Americans slip below the poverty line while the rich keep getting richer. But if the goal of Occupy Wall Street is improving social mobility in this country, then the movement really needs to focus as much on educational inequality as it does on income inequality. There is perhaps no better example of how the system is rigged against millions of Americans than the education our children receive.

Public schools are obviously not to blame for the mortgage crisis, over-leveraged investment banks or the other triggers of our current economic woes. But when it comes to giving Americans equal opportunity, our schools are demonstrably failing at their task. Today zip codes remain a better predictor of school quality and subsequent opportunities than smarts or hard work. When you think about it, that's a lot more offensive to our values than a lightly regulated banking system.

…A sad irony of Occupy Wall Street is that the movement is being embraced by teachers' unions. The unions are hardly the only cause of our educational problems, but they're not doing enough to fix them. In ways large and small, they defend practices and policies — things like how teacher pay is factored into the amount of money that is allotted to individual schools — that disadvantage low-income students. Can the Occupy movement square this circle? We'll see.

In any event, here's my humble suggestion to all the protesters who are getting kicked out of Zuccotti Park and other places across the country: take your posters and your outrage and go occupy the central office of your local school districts and teachers'-union headquarters. Then demand the kind of radical change we need to create school systems that live up to our values rather than mock them. Our schools are a more sympathetic target than corporate CEOs, but for many Americans, they are a larger cause of economic injustice.


School of Thought

Forget Wall Street. Go Occupy Your Local School District

Our nation's schools are a larger cause of economic inequality than investment banks and CEOs

By Andrew J. Rotherham | @arotherham | November 17, 2011 | 99

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