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Web Letters | The Nation

Chicago Teachers Push Back Against Neoliberal Education Reform

Diversity is essential

If we think of the total school-age population as a jar of jellybeans of all colors and flavors, the teacher’s issues with student performance issues becomes clear. First we take out the dark green jellybeans. They come from money and they are going to private schools, just as they always have, only I suspect, more so. Next we take out the yellow jellybeans of all shades. These kids live in the suburbs. Their parents pay more for sports, music, art, theater and other “enrichment” programs. Next we remove those being schooled in religious institutions, those home-schooled and of course those who are motivated and able to attend charter or other non-standard educational programs. Now what you have left in the jar is the rest, residue and remainder. There are, to be sure, brilliant kids among them, motivated and well-supported kids, but the proportions are increasingly distorted as policy moves toward providing choice as the alternative to investment.

The only rational answer is a public school population that includes nearly everyone. Neighborhoods that aren’t ghettos of homogeneity. A diverse community where there are an abundance of social, political, and economic models to choose from. Not easy. But solutions, real solutions, rarely, if ever, are.

Dennis Lerner

Syracuse, NY

Sep 14 2012 - 9:40am

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