PHILANTHROPHY Is Revolutionizing Education
Grossman, Jennifer A., USA TODAY
Philanthropists are providing a different approach to educational reform through a system of private vouchers that offer scholarship aid to poor families.
THE POWER of memory is central, not just to the life of a person, but to the life of a people. In his short story, "Children of the Alley," Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz writes, "Good examples would not be wasted on our alley were it not afflicted with forgetfulness. But forgetfulness is the plague of our alley." It is not just national forgetfulness that plagues the discussion of education reform, it is that most people have implicitly bought into a version of history that narrowly limits the debate and thus limits their ability to question, in any fundamental sense, the status quo.
This version holds that America was founded on public education, that education was not widely available before the introduction of public schools, that the U.S.'s government-run system is responsible for widespread literacy and universal school attendance, and that this system is as American as the Constitution, the flag, and democracy.
All four statements are widely accepted as conventional wisdom. To challenge them is considered, at best, silly and, at worst, sinister--even un-American. No wonder it is so painful to conclude that they are untrue. Nevertheless, it is profoundly important to do so. As novelist George Orwell once observed, he who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future.
Today, when we speak of reforming public education, the premise is that education should be delivered through a government system that solves problems through programmatic repairs. In this context, philanthropy is channeled toward …
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Publication information: Article title: PHILANTHROPHY Is Revolutionizing Education. Contributors: Grossman, Jennifer A. - Author. Magazine title: USA TODAY. Volume: 128. Issue: 2658 Publication date: March 2000. Page number: 54. © 2009 Society for the Advancement of Education. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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