Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform

Article excerpt

High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform, by Pauline Lipman. New York: Routledge, 2004. 224pp. $29.95, paperback.

Through a case study of four elementary schools in the Chicago system, Lipman argues that "neoliberal education programs and the drive to accountability and standardization have won out because they have captured the national, even international conversation about education as the only alternative for the 'failure' of public schooling" (p. 180). She skillfully argues the intricate connections between realities of race, globalization, the economy, and politics that hold the answers to real school reform. As Lipman carefully walks us through her rigorous ethnographic study of teachers, students, parents, and the Chicago Public School systems policies, it is clear that current policies and practices must be challenged and changed in order for schools to successfully educate our youth and future workers. That challenge, according to the author, requires a new language of critique that incorporates the multiple perspectives of teachers, students, families, and communities that are committed to providing the best education for children. That change must incorporate more progressive and socially just policies and means of assessing quality and effective learning in all schools.

Through the extensive interviews and thorough analysis of school policies, Lipman is able to show what happens to teachers and schools when the measure of its success is predicated purely on the results of tests, accountability, and standards. She uncovers the "hidden effects," of strict accountability requirements and shows that urban schools are often training grounds for secondclass citizenry, further disenfranchising youth as communities of citizens that will never realize the "American dream," nor have the opportunity to improve their lives. She confirms Jay MacLeod's (1995) findings that schools provide the training for low-skilled jobs, thus "leveling" students' aspirations but at the same time reprimanding these youths and their parents for not being academically, socially, or economically successful. Whereas MacLeod's study of two gangs in a housing project leads to similar conclusions through sociological theoretical lens, Lipman is thorough in her analysis of urban education and its "human cost" as it interrelates with global, economic, and political policies in this nation. She frames her analysis around four social justice imperatives-equity, agency, cultural relevance, and critical literacy, and makes it clear that race is central to the politics of education. Thus, she more strongly demonstrates how urban schools carry out urban education policy that continues to perpetuate the negative effects of poverty and unequal opportunities for our future workers, particularly African Americans and Latinas.

Lipman leads us to recognize that new policies for success, largely related to the accountability measures and consequences of No Child Left Behind (2002), have relegated teaching and learning to teaching for the test, disregarding any concerns students bring to school, or recognizing any other talents. Through her critical examination of "successful," as well as "failing schools," she raises questions about standardization, arguing that "these new standards and measures of accountability exacerbate existing educational and social inequities and contribute to new ones" (p. 3). Understanding the negative effect of high-stakes testing and accountability measures, one can quickly relate these findings to low-wage jobs, lack of health care and retirement security, racism, homelessness, and the new immigrant faces in the workplace.

Race continues to be central to the persistence of inequality. Changing demographics, coupled with new inequalities among and within cities, have important implications for urban school policy, including rationalizing "teaching and learning to serve global economic competition" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.