Monday, January 17, 2011

What would Martin Luther King Jr. say about class size and charter schools?

On this, the holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, we should remember that African-American children still suffer from inequitable conditions in our nation's schools - foremost among them, larger classes.

This is despite the fact that class size reduction is one of the very few reforms that have been proven to narrow the achievement gap, as poor and minority children receive twice the benefit from smaller classes than the average student. (See this recent issue brief from ETS, with data revealing the persistent inequities in class size, and pointing out that the achievement gap narrowed substantially in the 1970's and 1980's but stalled in the 1990's -- just as progress in reducing class size stalled nationally as well. )

Yet the corporate reformers who have hijacked educational policy in this nation, including Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, and Michelle Rhee, are all calling for even larger class sizes in our nation's public schools.

Rather than support equitable conditions, they are promoting the further expansion of charter schools, which as the UCLA Civil Rights Project has pointed out, leads to more segregation, not less. See also this excellent article by Jim Horn on the charter school issue, "What would Dr. King say?"

See below; one of the first in-depth televised interviews ever given by Martin Luther King Jr., first broadcast on NBC news on October 27, 1957.

(thanks to Mona Davids of the NY Charter Parents Association for pointing out the Jim Horn article.)

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