[Former Washington, D.C. school superintendent Michelle] Rhee went on to write in her Seattle Times op-ed, “Astronomically high dropout rates and subpar math and reading-proficiency levels in lower-income, inner-city schools ought to jolt us as especially immoral."There's more than a ruling class conspiracy causing poverty, according to Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds.
When Rhee refers to “inner-city” schools, she’s attempting to discuss Black students and other students of color. Yet she is scared to use the word “racism” because that would open up a conversation about the relationships between race, poverty and school performance. Rhee laments the educational outcomes of students living in poverty without ever questioning the causes of poverty. Perhaps that’s because her sponsors are the corporations and super-rich who profit from under-paying the poor for their labor, and whose policies perpetuate poverty. She is right about one thing--it’s appalling that low-income students have the worst outcomes in our schools. You won’t hear her say anything, however, about how corporate profits should be taxed to reinvest in our schools, or the fact that our nation prioritized finding trillions of dollars to recapitalize the same banks that sabotaged the global economy.
Moreover, Rhee has no understanding of the history of standardized testing or its contribution to the reproduction of inequality. As University of Washington education professor Wayne Au has written, “Looking back to its origins in the Eugenics moment, standardized testing provided…ideological cover for the social, economic and education inequalities the test themselves help maintain.” The stability of testing outcomes along racial lines, from the days of Eugenics until today, demonstrates standardized testing has always been a better measure of a student’s zip code than of aptitude. Wealthier and whiter districts score better on tests. These children have books in the home, parents with time to read to them, private tutoring, access to test-prep agencies, healthy food, health insurance, and similar advantages.
What we're seeing here, and elsewhere, is a breakdown in the great Progressive project of the late 19th and early 20th centuries of elevating the lower classes into the middle class. That project involved changes in society and in social mores that encouraged behaviors giving children more stable home environments and better prospects for social improvement. All of that is fading now.His focus is on differences in marriage behavior, although the argument might apply to changes in the focus of the schools.