Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way out of Inequality

Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way out of Inequality

Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way out of Inequality

Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way out of Inequality

Synopsis

In Class Dismissed, John Marsh debunks a myth cherished by journalists, politicians, and economists: that growing poverty and inequality in the United States can be solved through education. Using sophisticated analysis combined with personal experience in the classroom, Marsh not only shows that education has little impact on poverty and inequality, but that our mistaken beliefs actively shape the way we structure our schools and what we teach in them.

Rather than focus attention on the hierarchy of jobs and power- where most jobs require relatively little education, and the poor enjoy very little political power- money is funneled into educational endeavors that ultimately do nothing to challenge established social structures, and in fact reinforce them. And when educational programs prove ineffective at reducing inequality, the ones whom these programs were intended to help end up blaming themselves. Marsh's struggle to grasp the connection between education, poverty, and inequality is both powerful and poignant.

Excerpt

It gives an educator no pleasure to present the materials in this volume.

—IVAR BERG, Education and Jobs: The Great Training Robbery

Each May, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holds its commencement ceremonies. So many students graduate from this flagship state university, and so many families wish to attend, that not even the campus’s basketball arena, Assembly Hall, which seats over 16,000, can accommodate everyone. To handle these crowds, the university has two separate ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. At both, students gamely don caps and gowns; proud parents drive down from the suburbs of Chicago and snap digital picture after digital picture; a B-list intellectual, political, or cultural icon offers graduating seniors some warmed-over wisdom; and students march down the aisles to the strains of pomp and circumstance.

As deadly boring as these commencements can be, they can also be quite charming. They celebrate a definitive moment in a young person’s life, and they remind the community of the purpose and value of higher education.

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