Standardized testing, gentrification, school choice, and economic downturn have widened inequality to create an existential threat to democracy

When the Program for International Assessment (PISA) results were released in December 2019, they indicated that the last 20 years and billions of dollars spent on education reform in the USA had been ineffective. But the rankings are misleading. While American students remain roughly the same on aggregate, the top quarter of American students have been improving their performance on the exam since 2012, even as the bottom 10th percentile lost ground. In other words, something has happened: the achievement gap is widening, a consolidation that is beginning to mimic the increasing consolidation of wealth and opportunity in America.

Education policy is not designed to elevate every child. Billions of dollars have enhanced opportunities for the best students at the cost of opportunities for struggling students.  Public education—historically an economic equalizer—has instead helped widen an educational divide that is beginning to mirror the nation’s economic divide.

Except provided courtesy of the author, Michael Seelig. Read the full piece at the Stanford Social Innovation Review.


Michael Seelig, Executive Officer for Academic & Administrative Programs, Medgar Evers College, CUNY


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