Andy Rotherham occupies educational inequality

This column from Andy Rotherham appearing today on is so well worth reading that it’s hard to edit it down to a few excerpts. It’s the most prescient and fair-minded argument on where to direct our “Occupy” anger in the cause for social and economic justice, ending with a plea to the Occupy Wall Street movement to “demand the kind of radical change we need to create a school system that lives up to our values rather than mocking them.”

On economic inequality: “… when it comes to giving Americans equal opportunity, our schools are demonstrably failing at their task. Today zip codes remain a better predictor of school quality and subsequent opportunities than smarts or hard work. When you think about it, that’s a lot more offensive to our values than a lightly regulated banking system.”

On ideas to foster equal opportunity: “… our politicians are too skittish to take on special interests or too wrapped up in ideology to acknowledge that no single solution — for instance, school choice, ending the federal role in education or just addressing poverty — will fix our education system.”

On the teacher union embrace of the Occupy movement, what Rotherham calls “a sad irony”: “The unions are hardly the only cause of our educational problems, but they’re not doing enough to fix them. In ways large and small, they defend practices and policies — things like how teacher pay is factored into the amount of money that is allotted to individual schools — that disadvantage low-income students. Can the Occupy movement square this circle? We’ll see.”

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit