Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Your So-Called Education"

In a typical semester, for instance, 32 percent of the students did
not take a single course with more than 40 pages of reading per week,
and 50 percent did not take any course requiring more than 20 pages of
writing over the semester. The average student spent only about 12 to
13 hours per week studying — about half the time a full-time college
student in 1960 spent studying, according to the labor economists
Philip S. Babcock and Mindy S. Marks.


The situation reflects a larger cultural change in the relationship
between students and colleges. The authority of educators has
diminished, and students are increasingly thought of, by themselves
and their colleges, as “clients” or “consumers.” When 18-year-olds are
emboldened to see themselves in this manner, many look for ways to
attain an educational credential effortlessly and comfortably. And
they are catered to accordingly. The customer is always right.

"In Prison Reform, Money Trumps Civil Rights" Op-Ed in the NYT by Michelle Alexander author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness"

Those who believe that righteous indignation and protest politics were appropriate in the struggle to end Jim Crow, but that something less will do as we seek to dismantle mass incarceration, fail to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge. If our nation were to return to the rates of incarceration we had in the 1970s, we would have to release 4 out of 5 people behind bars. A million people employed by the criminal justice system could lose their jobs. Private prison companies would see their profits vanish. This system is now so deeply rooted in our social, political and economic structures that it is not going to fade away without a major shift in public consciousness.

Yes, some prison downsizing is likely to occur in the months and years to come. But we ought not fool ourselves: we will not end mass incarceration without a recommitment to the movement-building work that was begun in the 1950s and 1960s and left unfinished. A human rights nightmare is occurring on our watch. If we fail to rise to the challenge, and push past the politics of momentary interest convergence, future generations will judge us harshly.