Corporate education reformers often say that poverty is just an excuse for bad teachers. Michelle Rhee said that often, but seven years after she took charge of the D.C. Public schools (and was replaced by her deputy Kaya Henderson), D.C. remains one of the nation’s lowest-scoring districts.
Arne Duncan has often called poverty an excuse. Wendy Kopp and Bill Gates have said that if “we” fix schools first, poverty will take care of itself.
The rest of us are waiting for proof of this claim. One consequence of believing that corporate education reform cures poverty is that none of the 1% feels it necessary to do anything to reduce poverty. Just test more often, adopt Common Core, fire teachers whose students don’t get high test scores, close schools with low scores, and open many more charters.
None of this reduces poverty. But it makes the 1% feel righteous without raising their taxes.
A comment by a reader on this subject, with one correction. The U.S. is #1 in child poverty among advanced nations, not #2. Romania is not an advanced nation; its economic development was repressed by decades of Communist dictatorship.
The reader writes:
“I think it is very difficult to sustain the argument that the US does as much to promote child well-being as many other advanced nations. Most measures as indicated by this report (http://www.oecd.org/els/family/43570328.pdf) don’t appear to be in the US’ favor:
“High overall levels of child well-being are achieved by the Netherlands and Sweden and low levels by the United States and the United Kingdom. Even at the top performing end, both the Netherlands and Sweden have a dimension along which performance is at best only adequate (material well-being for the Netherlands and Family relationships for Sweden). At the bottom, both the United States and the United Kingdom perform worse than the median country on all dimensions.”
“Furthermore, the US’ relative child poverty rate (defined as living in a household that earns less than half of the national median) is extremely high when compared to other developed countries: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/04/15/map-how-35-countries-compare-on-child-poverty-the-u-s-is-ranked-34th/
“Just looking at how we stack up with Australia and Canada should be illustrative given our similar income levels, immigration rates (actually higher in those nations), and shared cultural heritage.”