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how to destroy a public school system

sshameti's picture

Gordon, Brooks notes, “said his job was ‘to help poor people.’ Well, no one asked for your help…. Every couple years, they come up with a new philosophy about what’s best—instead of funding the schools.”

“Change is the only option,” declared Mark Gleason, the PSP’s chief executive, in testimony before state legislators in 2013. “We may not fully know which changes will make the most difference, which will transform outcomes for poor and minority students. But we have some good clues—we even have some proof points right here in Philadelphia—and we know the status quo is most definitely not working for disadvantaged students. The debate we should be having is about which changes are worth trying—not about saving a failed system.”

-"How to Destroy a Public School System"

The first quote stood out to me because of its straightforwardness and bluntness; here is an example of a person who is experiencing the issue firsthand and has a clear idea of what the solution could be (and is telling you themselves): more funding for schools! Funding without restrictions, funding without "philosophy" (that often comes from a top-down level in which people who have little experience functioning in an under-funded school seem to think they know exactly how to improve it), and without having to "earn" or "deserve" funding (by looking at students' test scores or other problematic ways of measuring success). If education is actually a fundamental right for people, school funding should be a fundamental right, as well. 

The second quote stood out to me because it felt like another example of a person out of touch with the currently operating system or not willing to engage with the system voicing an opinion on how it can be "changed" or "fixed." It's so clear to me from reading this article that the school system in Philly, far from being an equalizer, is instead used as another instution that holds up oppressive ideals about who matters in society.


lcastrejon's picture

I agreed when you said,

"If education is actually a fundamental right for people, school funding should be a fundamental right, as well."

I truly believe that whoever is in charge definitely needs to recognize that given the fact that we live in a capitalist society, education needs funding in order to help improve the quality that is being given towards its students. Unfortunately I cant help but feel like, it is because we live in a capitalist society that whoever is in charge won't budge and provide the appropriate funding towards education since by doing so, those who are at the top and benefitting from it the most will lose money and will no longer be at the top. It just further transforms education as a form of business which in my opinion takes away the true essence and value of education.

jccohen's picture


Your comment about the straightforwardness and clarity of Brooks' comment hits home: Yes, here's an opportunity to hear an unmitigated community voice, and your parsing of this idea that funding could and should arrive without all the strings attached - strings which many would say are not only not community-based but also get in the way of real change - unpacks this situation. 

The question of education as a "fundamental right" is of course contested, as we saw in the San Antonio v Rodriguez case in the 70s and have seen more recently in several state cases; some states, though, have established this on the basis of their state constitutions, so that's a road with some possibilities...