Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Book: The Changing Politics of Education: Privatization and The Dispossessed Lives Left Behind (Fabricant and Fine)

A study that illustrates many issues related to school reform in St. Louis and Missouri:

The Changing Politics of Education: Privatization and the Dispossessed Lives Left Behind
Michael Fabricant & Michelle Fine (Paradigm, 2013)


The authors persuasively argue that the present cascade of reforms to public education is a consequence of a larger intention to shrink government. The startling result is that more of public education’s assets and resources are moving to the private sector and to the prison industrial complex. Drawing on various forms of evidence—structural, economic, narrative, and youth-generated participatory research—the authors reveal new structures and circuits of dispossession and privilege that amount to a clear failure of present policy. Policymaking is at war with the interests of the vast majority of citizens, and especially with urban youth of color. In the final chapter the authors explore democratic principles and offer examples essential to mobilizing, in solidarity with educators, youth, communities, labor, and allied social movements, the kind of power necessary to contest the present direction of public education reform.
This is one of those very rare books on public education and social dispossession that bursts the bounds of its brilliant scholarship and explodes into a soaring call for action. Fine and Fabricant carefully dissect the ideological attack upon the public schools, the selling off of public services to the private sector, the marginalization of professional teachers, and the relegation of low-income students to the status of expendables. But the genius of this book lies in its recognition that disinvestment in the public schools and their replacement by selective boutique institutions are serving the purpose for which they were intended: mightily expanding the inequalities of wealth, darkening the futures of the dispossessed, and cannibalizing what remains of democratic spirit in a corporate society. The book ends with strong proposals -- “direct action” and “the reinvention of the work of unions,” among other bold suggestions that are seldom heard from academic authors in this era of retrenchment. The book has an electrifying tone. It creates a sense of urgency. I’m profoundly grateful to the authors.
--Jonathan Kozol