Poverty Is The Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time

From Diane Ravitch. Poverty needs to be dealt with before we can deal with anything else in a meaningful way. Those who say our society will be fixed by chartering all the public schools are just fooling themselves.[edited for sub/verb agreement--I only teach 2nd!]
But I also believe that the most important challenge to our society today is poverty. So long as large segments of our society live in desperate poverty, their children enter school far behind. Education surely plays a role in ameliorating poverty, but schools alone are not the most effective anti-poverty program. If we want to reduce or eliminate poverty now rather than 20 years from now, then we must take action to help people find employment, to create jobs, to bolster adult literacy and adult education, and to provide access to health care to those who cannot afford it.

The schools today are not at the center of a new civil rights movement. Usually a movement is composed of the powerless bringing their grievances to the powerful. This contemporary “movement” (if it is one) is led by people who are themselves in the seats of power. Who are they confronting? Themselves? Their common grievance is the existence of an achievement gap among students of different racial groups, which all of us deplore. Is anyone defending or condoning the achievement gap? Do schools cause it? What do they propose to do to close it? Who is stopping them?

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