So right and so critical to any sensible discussion of the future of American education and the American democracy.
“The new administration seems to have realized that the best way to eradicate poverty is to address it head-on. Yet, even as Biden works to put literal cash in the hands of the poor, his education policy has failed to reflect this historic realignment. Instead, the administration continues to talk about schools, from K-12 to community colleges, in the language of human capital acquisition and workforce development. And it’s not just the rhetoric. Biden’s education policies also reflect an absence of new ideas. His secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, has spent much of his early tenure on the job defending high-stakes tests. And at the heart of Biden’s K-12 agenda is a massive infusion of funds into the original education “fix”—Title I of Lyndon Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”Our schools can’t fix the problems of poverty, and parts of the Biden administration seem to know that. But until education policy breaks free from this framing of the purpose of school, it will remain difficult to recognize what our schools can do. At a time when voting rights are increasingly being restricted, when we continue to debate the value of Black lives, and when we can’t agree on basic facts, public education has an essential role to play. We don’t have public schools in this country so that young people can compete for advantage against each other—or so that the private sector can reduce the costs of training labor. Instead, we tax ourselves to pay for universal K-12 education because public schools are the bulwark of a diverse, democratic society. That’s the message that the Biden administration should be sending. It’s the message we need.”