ERIC Number: EJ920520
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: N/A
Organizing for Equity: Most Policymakers Have Done Little for Our Poorest Schools--Can Parents Fill the Void?
Fabricant, Michael B.
American Educator, v35 n1 p36-40, 47 Spr 2011
This author states that, since the civil rights movement, Americans have documented and decried--but done little to decrease--the achievement gap. This gulf, one of many that divide people by race and class, has festered in part because the larger question of inequitable investment in poor communities of color has long been neglected. Demonstration projects of various kinds have been tested in selected communities--but little has been made of the successes. He contends that demonstration projects, if they work, are meant to be scaled up; however, a more ambitious, transformative investment in a cross-section of poor communities across the nation has never been attempted. It is essential to excavate the deep experience of education organizing if people are to build on and share the lessons of specific campaigns. People know that for a campaign to influence academic outcomes, it must effectively promote strategic investments in the poorest schools, increase parents' power, and create new relationships between parents, teachers, and students that can transform learning culture. Clearly, promoting equitable investments is paramount. Presently, the education organizing literature etches broad contours of a number of campaigns but reveals little about what was most salient to building parent power, producing alliances, influencing issue selection, sustaining community involvement, or structuring campaign strategy. Community organizing as a principal strategy for correcting inequitable investment in public schooling and increasing academic achievement is not without its profound dilemmas. There are no airtight strategies to assure a substantial redistribution of public dollars to the poorest school systems. This much is clear, however: the present policymaking establishment will not advance a redistributive agenda in the absence of significant grassroots pressure. The long history of inequitable investments has stunted the academic achievement and life chances of the poorest students in America. Parents whose children are damaged every day by these inequitable policies are ready to fight. They need to be joined by parents in other communities, teachers who are also outraged by underfunded schools, politicians prepared to call for transformative investments, and the cross section of citizens who understand the fragile but essential relationship between strong schools and a robust democracy. (Contains 1 footnote and 20 endnotes.)
Descriptors: Achievement Gap, Democracy, Economically Disadvantaged, Community Involvement, Academic Achievement, Parents, Equal Education, Public Education, Educational Change, Teachers
American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment