Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Media Appearance and Eductional Debt

First, I want to thank Fatima Ashraf of Radio Tahrir for interviewing me this past week for Pacifica Radio's Informed Dissent series. We did a brief interview on Proposal 2 and how it's been swept under the rug in light of the "Democratic Sweep." You can find it on the Nov 18th in part one about half way through.

Last night I was reading and talking to one of my boys and I told him I was reading about the achievement gap. To which he responded, "You love to read about that ish." Which I do, it's the motivation for my research. While we talked I lamented over not really learning anything "new" from most publications on it. He responded, "Well if you're going to publish on it, why don't you just write the book that someone's going to write in 25 years. Just say it (the achievement gap) ain't going no where." While on the face this remark is fatalistic, I think he's actually right on. I was further confirmed of this when I woke up and finally read through Gloria Ladson-Billings' 2006 American Educational Research Association's Presidential Address. The talk was entitled "From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools." The talk is really amazing and I encourage you read it, it's a little longer than most things that I link to, but well worth it. Or you can watch it here.

She uses economics to discuss educational inequality but not in predictable ways. She uses economics to talk about people.
I am arguing that our focus on the achievement gap is akin to a
focus on the budget deficit, but what is actually happening to
African American and Latina/o students is really more like the
national debt. We do not have an achievement gap; we have an
education debt.

The talk is based on the idea that we do not know what really causes the narrowing of the gap.
However, when we begin looking at the construction and compilation
of what I have termed the education debt, we can better
understand why an achievement gap is a logical outcome. I am
arguing that the historical, economic, sociopolitical, and moral
decisions and policies that characterize our society have created an
education debt.

She powerfully weaves a narrative of black, brown, yellow and red children's cumulative educational disadvantage. She makes powerful policy metaphors from Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Ed, the Voting Rights Acts all the way to the responses to Hurricane Katrina. She leaves us with fertile ground to start our work toward improving children's lives and opportunities. I can't encourage you enough to read it, it gives a richer context to discussions of the pursuit of educational and social inequality.


Flat-Out said...

Great piece of scholarship.

Still looking for a nice large crew to go flat-out for Affirmative Action.

And I mean REAL Affirmative Action.

I mean open admissions to college, for every brother and sister who graduates from high school, tuition free.

Who could argue that Black America has not earned that much, 1000 times over?

It would be a whole lot cheaper than flushing $1 trillion away killing a million Iraqis, wouldn't you say?

Who could argue that whites haven't had the most massive Affirmative-Action-for-whites imaginable, for, oh, 400 years or so?

Dumi said...

Flat Out, you crack me up. I hear you. I'm laughing of course because I know folks will argue the counter to whatever you say when it comes to Black people and mistreatment. Look at the way folks jumped to "Kramer's" defense on Youtube and other sites where people were commenting on his tirade. The question of a complete social overhaul should be at the center of our education reforms. Now of course, I wonder what the world would look like if our children actually had sufficent opportunity and TIME to succeed. How many children would be left behind?

Monique said...

I really enjoyed this reading. I even tried to explain it to a coworker. As my coworker looked at me perplexed, I realized I fell short of capturing exactly what the author said. Of course, I offered to give her the reading so she could clearly grasp the point.
I'm still wondering about the more revolutionary ways to address the educational debt. How exciting would it be for someone to actually institute one?