The ongoing churn of test-based education reform that has stripped many low-income schools of arts education, recess, and even science is persistently justified as essential to economic recovery. As we educate children to higher standards, the argument goes, we’ll be better able to “compete” with workers from other nations. High skilled jobs will be created and filled, and the economy will again be able to support families. Just a few examples of this reasoning from both liberal and conservative voices can be found here, here, here, and here.
It’s become a taken-for-granted mantra: Until we raise educational standards — even as state after state cuts education budgets –the economy cannot recover.
And thus, it is a breath of fresh air when a (relatively) apolitical group like Standard and Poor’s acknowledges that we cannot test our way into economic prosperity, and that growing levels of income inequality in and of itself slows economic growth, in part because of declining investments in education.
It would seem possible for poor children to play at recess, draw and paint, learn science, and be prepared for robust citizenship and their place an ever shifting workforce in schools with enough resources, smaller classes, the support staff taking for granted in wealthier communities, and communities in which at least safe housing and health care are available to all.
Now, ed reformers are hell-bent on holding teachers “accountable” for educating us out of economic malaise.
Might we hope that reports like might begin to shift the conversation?
A New York Times essay on the Standard and Poor’s report is here.