Schooling the Poor: A Social Inquiry into the American Educational Experience

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview

children were supposedly evaluated by their academic attainments rather than by their birth into particular families and classes.

The economic, cultural, and religious ties of individuals provided them with starting points in their educational careers; those with economic, cultural, and linguistic advantages soon pulled ahead in the competitive ethos of burgher schools. Nevertheless, all were treated as equals even though the stratification practices weeded out the children of the poorer classes in the elementary grades.

Schools became an important institution in burgher society, as we have seen, taking over many of the socialization and inculcation functions performed by the family and church in precapitalist periods. The rights and privileges of a business society were emphasized by constant discourse in classrooms, along with an affirmation of its ideological and cultural perspectives.

Schooling for the poor was an educational enterprise without education, an enterprise of constant surveillance and judgment and of uniform custody. The last traces of pedagogic orthodoxy had been extinguished long ago. Formerly, the schools for the poor had openly espoused moral suasion and assimilation as their primary goals. Now, inner city schools solely represented the interests of the state and society against the needs of their most disabled youth. The values of the workplace now reigned supreme in these inner city schools, rejecting the attitudes of despair that often suffused the attitudes of the poor.


NOTES
1.
Stanley W. Rothstein, "Orientations: First Impressions in an Urban Junior High School." Urban Education 14 ( April 1979): 91-116; Erving E. Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates ( New York: Doubleday-Anchor, 1961); Ray Rist, The Urban School: A Factory for Failure ( Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1973); Charles Bereiter, "Schools Without Education," Harvard Educational Review 42 ( 1972): 390-413; Estelle Fuchs, Teachers Talk: Views from Inside City Schools ( Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969); Harold Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology ( Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice- Hall, 1984); Harold Mchan, Learning Lessons: Social Organization in the Classroom ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979); Alfred Schutz, Collected Papers, Volume 1 ( The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962).
2.
Stanley W. Rothstein, "Researching the Power Structure: Personalized Power and Institutionalized Charisma in the Principalship," Interchange: A Journal of Educational Studies 6 ( 1975): 41-49.
3.
Rothstein, "Orientations," pp. 102-3.
4.
Ibid., pp. 98-99.

-166-

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