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An American Affidavit

Thursday, December 28, 2017

209.A Billion, Six For KC: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

209.A Billion, Six For KC: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

A Billion, Six For KC 

     What are the prospects of reclaiming systematic schooling so it serves the general  welfare? Surely the possibility of recharging the system when so many seem to desire  such a course would be the best refutation of my buried thesis — that no trustworthy  change is possible, that the school machine must be shattered into a hundred thousand  parts before the pledges made in the founding documents of this country have a chance to  be honored again. No one serves
better as an emblem of the hopelessness of a gradual  course of school reform or one that follows the dictates of conventional wisdom than  Judge Russell G. Clark, of Kansas City, Missouri.  

      For more than ten years Judge Clark oversaw the spending of a $1.6 billion windfall in an  attempt to desegregate Kansas City schools and raise the reading and math scores of poor  kids. I arbitrarily select his story from many which might be told to show how unlikely it  is that the forces which gave us our present schools are likely to vanish, even in the face  of outraged determination. Or that models of a better way to do things are likely to solve  the problem, either.  

     Judge Russell G. Clark took over the Kansas City school district in 1984 after  adjudicating a case in which the NAACP acted for plaintiffs in a suit against the school  district. Although he began the long court proceedings as a former farm boy raised in the  Ozarks without an activist judicial record, Clark's decision was favorable to the  desegregationists beyond any reasonable expectation. Clark invited those bringing the  suit to dream up perfect schools and he would get money to pay for them! Using the  exceptional power granted federal judges, he unilaterally ordered the doubling of city  property taxes. 4 When that provided inadequate revenue, he ordered the state to make up  the difference. How's that for decisive, no-nonsense support for school reform as a social  priority? 

      Suddenly the district was awash in money for TV studios, swimming pools, planetariums,  zoos, computers, squadrons of teachers and specialists. "They had as much money as any  school district will ever get," said Gary Orfield, a Harvard investigator who directed a  postmortem analysis, "It didn't do very much." Orfield was wrong. The Windfall  produced striking results: 

      Average daily attendance went down, the dropout rate went up, the black-white  achievement gap remained stationary, and the district was as segregated after ten years of     well-funded reform as it had been at the beginning. A former school board president  whose children had been plaintiffs in the original suit leading to Judge Clark's takeover  said she had "truly believed if we gave teachers and administrators everything they said  they needed, that would make a huge difference. I knew it would take time, but I did  believe by five years into this program we would see dramatic results educationally."  Who is the villain in this tale? Judge Clark is. He just doesn't get it. The system isn't  broken. It works as intended, turning out incomplete people. No repair can fix it, nor is  the education kids need in any catalogue to buy. As Kansas City proves, giving schools  more money only encourages them to intensify the destructive operations they already  perform.   

4. They actually were raised 150 percent, from a base already not low. With what effect on homeowners just holding on was anyone's guess.  Here, as in the case of Benson, Vermont, up ahead, the institution's aspect as predatory parasite appears in stark relief.   Education's Most Powerful Voice 

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