Ever notice that whenever someone brings up issues of inequality, another person is bound to say, “Yes, that’s a necessary conversation, but let’s work on this [not-as-significant] policy issue first!” but then, when that’s resolved in one form or another, inequality is still on the table, left to those of us who deal with the consequences?
Yeah, me neither.
This is the way it usually goes in these big board meetings:
Person A: “OK, ladies and gentlemen, we have these two proposals here: one that addresses [latest trend of the day] and the other that addresses social inequality in our schools.”
The whole table buzzes about the proposals at the table.
Person B: “Sounds great! So, how long do each of them take, if you had to put a guess on it?”
Person A: “Well, the first proposal will probably take a few years, but it’s a lot more manageable and less time- and resource-consuming than the second.”
Buzz simmers down.
Person B: “OK, we’ll take A.”
Seven years pass.
Person A: “Well, that was a flop. It was doing OK in urban schools, but once the suburbs found out what we were trying to do, they didn’t even give it a chance. Gosh. Why can’t they obey?”
Person B: “We still have this other proposal for solving inequality in schools, right?”
Person A: “Yeah, but now we have to update it. There’s still inequality, but it looks different, so that’ll take more time on top of the already long timeline set by the original plan. Good news: I have a new plan for this new thing coming out. It’s more manageable and less time- and resource-consuming than the inequality one.”
Person B: “Well, OK, we’ll try it.”
Seven years pass.
Person A: “Well, that was a flop. It was doing OK in urban schools, but …”
So here’s my thing. Whether it’s No Child Left Behind, Common Core State Standards, or any other big federal policy, the discussions around them always seem to serve as a big, well-funded, thoroughly publicized distraction for social, racial, gender, and / or economic equity in our country. Some people might see potential in some of the policies making progress with our most disadvantaged, but our society still passes bandages for stitches and medicine.
Our country has more than enough resources to eliminate child poverty, enough brainpower to deconstruct racist policies, and enough muscle to assure that women were on the same footing as men. But please, don’t let me interrupt the cycle. With all the monies wasted on untenable policies, you’d have spent enough to make a dent on more important matters. Of that I’m sure.