Thursday, December 02, 2004

Educational Bureaucracies

Via Professor Plum, Wisconsin education professor Martin Haberman has a long and outraged essay over the state of education in inner cities. A central problem that Haberman identifies: Self-serving bureaucrats in central offices. Here's a key paragraph:
The reason that several hundred thousand of these central office functionaries in 120 districts can get away with, indeed be rewarded for, the unforgivable mass educational killing of children is that these are children of color and children in poverty. If the suburban and small town schools of Wisconsin had a graduation rate of 36% (the current graduation rate for African Americans in my city) there would not be an air of calm “professionalism” in the central offices, or at the school board, or in the streets outside the schools. The parents (and their lawyers) would be engaged in activities that would be closing down the system. The Governor would be calling out the National Guard to protect school property and convening a special session of the state legislature. The President as well as the Secretary of Education would be making personal visits and commitments promising immediate change. The universities, business associations, and community organizations would be holding forums and meetings. Churches would be holding all night vigils. The local foundations would be funding special studies and action task forces. The media would keep the story on page one until the system was changed. If the victims of such horrendous miseducation were white children in small towns and suburbs rather than urban minority children and children in poverty the dysfunctional bureaucracy would not survive one year let alone be allowed to grow even worse every year for over half a century.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, but what's your point? A lot of bad things happen to poor people that wealthy people wouldn't put up with. For example, they shut down Fifth Avenue in Harlem one Sunday every year to run the NYC marathon, making it impossible for Harlemites to (say) cross town to get to church; they wouldn't go shutting Park Avenue like that.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Doc said...

I get so tired of everything being about race. Poor people in the cities suffer because they are poor, not because they are black or white.

I note the first consequence of low graduation rates in more middle class areas the author notes: "The parents (and their lawyers) would be engaged in activities that would be closing down the system." Rich or poor, black or white, the parents have a responsibility to demand more from the schools. It seems to me the underlying problem is a general sense of acceptance of a 36% graduation rate by parents in poor areas of the city. Isn't this the kind of attitude Bill Cosby has been talking about? The answer isn't found in changing the bureaucrats, it's in changing the attitudes of the people who are affected. If the parents in the cities reacted as the author describes suburban parents reacting, the results would be the same.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Doc said...

Professor Plum, both in the excerpt and in the full essay, keeps invoking race for no apparent reason than to evoke allegations of racism. For example, he says, "Low income people of color cannot find affordable housing in suburbs or the transportation and jobs needed to live in small towns." What, low income white people can find housing in suburbs? It's just the low income people of color who cannot? Come on. Why unnecessarily invoke race, when race has nothing to do with the situation?

Plum also says, "There is a continuing and growing shortage of school leaders of color who can function effectively in African American and Latino communities." What, so white people cannot teach hispanic kids? Isn't this in inheirently racist statement?

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what is the mystery? The professor decries a lack of bureaucratic vigor citing a lack of parental outrage. It's quite simple isn't it. Parents in inner cities are not involved. I venture this trait is exhibited throughout the child's life. Therefore, a lack of parental involvement leads to poor educational results. A not unexpected outcome.

The problem with the left who in fact run academia and the educational establishment is they cannot bring themselves to blame the parents. It's simply not in their nature. They will blame themselves and any other white person handy.

Inner city parents must simply become better parents. If they make this investment they will demand a better return.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Doc said...

I have expanded on my comments on my blog.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the topic of dysfunctional school bureaucracies, check out this recent report from Common Good:

4:44 PM  
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6:42 PM  

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