Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Class really matters

Helen Ladd, a Duke Public Policy professor, and Edward Fiske, a former education editor for the New York Times, offer a missive Monday on how much economic and social class matters for student performance, in a piece titled “Class Matters: Why Won’t We Admit It?”
The writers make a comparison between the Occupy Movement’s demand for addressing “undeserved” income inequality, with resolving unwarranted educational opportunity inequality. 
Having subbed in northern Virginia school systems myself and frequented various churches in the “mainstream” world, it’s apparent that “upper middle class kids” grow up with much more incentive to do well in school.  Furthermore, they are more likely to understand responsible use of the Internet, even as novel as it is for middle aged parents,  and avoid the tremendous reputational problems that often occur as a result.  And they are more likely to be able to teach themselves modern skills (such as computer programming), and the advent of computers and Internet use has magnified the gap.   There is always a question of which kids might misuse them because of lack of maturity. 
There is a tendency in an individualistic society to regard people as responsible for their own level of accomplishment, regardless of background or circumstances – among employers, teachers, and in social circumstances. 
The authors would perhaps challenge that assumption. Here is the link

The comments by GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, critical of child labor laws, and suggesting that underprivileged kids could catch up if they worked as janitors or greeters (or maybe in the library, my goodness) have caught a lot of indignation, as on ABC's "The View".  A long summary of his comments, called "Duct Cleaning", appears on "Global Post", complete with videos, here.

Visitors might want to check out NYTimes editorial criticism of GOP unemployment benefits policies, possibly drug testing applicants and requiring them to have high school diplomas or at least be in the process of getting them. 

Oh, and I have to pass this on. "Truthout" has a brazen piece by David Kristjanson-Gural, "Capitalism is the enemy of democracy".  It doesn't get more blunt than that, here.  I recall a female member of the People's Party of New Jersey back around 1972 saying, "why do we have to have capitalism?"  There are some elements who might want to redistribute wealth by force, and then turn it to accomplished fact. Is that "revolution?"  It's hard to believe that attempts to close West Coast ports will get very far.

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