As we reduce schooling to reading and math and if there’s time, a little science; as teachers march through scripted curricula; as poor and working-class children come to understand that school is about in intractability of their failure (and as their communities are told that this failure is the fault of their teachers who either can’t or work hard enough); and as my state and the federal government both insist that we need to get more kids to college if we are to remain economically competitive, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data on areas of projected job growth through 2o20 makes clear that if all kids aced those precious tests from now until adulthood, most would still be heading for low-wage, low skill jobs.
There is always a moment of stunned silence when we look at data like this in my courses. We talk about broader purposes of schooling — for citizenship, for building strong communities, for the hope of raising a generation that will do better at all of this than we have.
But my students — many of whom are themselves going deeply into debt to become teachers or to eek out a minimal raise with a graduate degree — understand at some fundamental level how vulnerable their students are and how fundamentally misguided the efforts are to solve deep economic inequalities through test-driven schools.
Thanks to Sociological Images for making the BLS data so readily available.