The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America

By Brian D’Agostino | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Unleashing Minds and
Brains

INTRODUCTION

In its Jeffersonian origins, the primary goal of public education in the United States was to equip citizens to participate in democratic governance. As voting rights were extended to poor whites, African Americans, and women, education played a central role in their empowerment. While continuing to pay lip service to this civic function of education, most Americans today view school primarily as the source of skills and credentials needed for individual, private success (Turner 2011). This development reflects the eclipse of democracy itself in the age of global capitalism.

In this mercenary and competitive environment, which America’s ruling elites have played no small part in creating, standardized tests of individual performance on verbal and mathematical skills have become the dominant measures of educational success. School districts are increasingly firing teachers and awarding merit pay on the basis of such test scores, notwithstanding that some of the most capable and dedicated personnel in public education work in inner-city schools where low test scores reflect a surrounding culture of poverty. Meanwhile, with education becoming a competition among individuals for test scores, schools

1. In New York City, where I live, the Department of Education in theory takes account of the socio-economic status and prior academic skill level of students in its evaluation of teachers. In practice, the schools it is closing because of low test scores—in most cases over the objections of the schools’ stakeholders—are disproportionately located in poor, minority communities (Cramer 2011; Grassroots Education Movement 2011).

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The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I- How the Rich Rule 1
  • Chapter 1- The National Security Scam 3
  • Chapter 2- The Attack on Wages and Benifits 29
  • Chapter 3- School Reform and Other Diversions 55
  • Chapter 4- The Attack on Goverment 83
  • Part II- A New Progressive Agenda 95
  • Chapter 5- Government for the People 97
  • Chapter 6- Markets without Capitalism 129
  • Chapter 7- Unleashing Minds and Brains 143
  • Chapter 8- Renewing Democracy 159
  • Appendix Psychology of Radical Right 169
  • Bibliography 177
  • Index 197
  • About the Author 205
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