Yes, education is an economic issue. Poverty and all the factors associated with poverty, such as lack of resources, segregation, unsafe neighborhoods, and lack of nutritious food and health care, is the barrier that inhibits educational achievement for too many students in the United States. Free market solutions to education reform with test scores and competition as the ultimate arbiter of educational success do not have the ability to change the lives or educational outcomes for children living insecure lives as a result of poverty.
Americans know the solution. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was created as a component of President Johnson’s War on Poverty policies. Through the next eight presidential administrations, the purposes of ESEA have been skewed and its promises have been broken through lack of funding and the imposition of free market competition based accountability systems. ESEA has become No Child Left Behind, a tool for the free market to continue in the move to privatize public schools.
Amidst the cacophony of calls that public schools are failing, however, there are champions of public schools who acknowledge the social and economic challenges that must be overcome in order to achieve real education reform in the United States. Thanks to the leadership of Elaine Weiss, the National Coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education, schools and communities that are engaged in real education reform through comprehensive systems have a platform to showcase effective solutions for public schools and the children they serve
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