by Max Brantley
A Texas school superintendent, writing in the Washington Post, says his eyes have been opened by No Child Left Behind and the disaggregation of data that forces educators to address gaps between rich and poor, black and white and so on. Though he suspects the reform movement is mostly about convincing America the system has failed so it can be privatized and further enrich the already-wealthy, he's ready to consider broadening the notion of equal achievement.
Let the 50 states disaggregate equality-related data by ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, and let us rank the states and reward them for closing all the societal inequalities that are truly at the heart of our achievement gap. There should be an incentive for voters to elect lawmakers who will craft policies that minimize inequalities.
Let’s have national benchmarks for equality in incarceration, equality in college enrollment, equality in health coverage, equality in income levels, employment rates, rates of drug addiction and child abuse.
Let the states figure out how to close their gaps, but reward results. Citizens in states whose data shows progress toward equality benchmarks should be rewarded with a lower federal income tax rate.
Note that the states can figure out how to get there, so no one can accuse me of urging socialist fixes to inequality. I don’t care how you fix it, just fix it. As a teacher I am calling on society to do its part to save these kids! The kind of plan I am describing leaves mechanisms to the states — it merely incentivizes equality.
We should all insist that our leaders build a system that guarantees the demise of inequity on these shores. Let’s move together toward a broader social accountability, driven by data and gauged by progress toward statistical, measurable, social equality. ....
Let’s publish the data in newspapers. Let’s label all 50 states once a year. Let the states stand on their records and compare their progress. Let’s ensure that no more American Dreams get deferred because of unequal opportunity. ...
As soon as the data shows that the average black student has the same opportunity to live and learn and hope and dream in America as the average white student, and as soon as the data shows that the average poor kid drinks water just as clean and breathes air just as pure as the average rich kid, then educators like me will no longer cry foul when this society sends us children and says: Get them all over the same hurdle.
Heh. No excuses.