Sitting in a small cafe in a small town in western Massachusetts, Jordan talks about his problems with opioids. He was a construction worker, but an accident at his work site sent him to a hospital and into the arms of prescription painkillers. Jordan’s doctor did not properly instruct him about the dangers of these pills, which he used to kill the pain that ran down his leg. When the prescription ran out, Jordan found he craved the pills. “I used up my savings buying them on the black market,” he told me. When his own money ran out, Jordan got involved in petty theft. He went to prison for a short stint. The lack of proper care for his addiction in the prison allowed him to spiral into more dangerous drugs, which led to his near-death. Now released, Jordan struggles to make his way in the world.
Heights Community Congress has just released Educational Redlining: How Zillow and GreatSchools Profit from Suspect School Ratings and Harm Communities, a report on the practice by Zillow, the real estate website, and GreatSchools to guide home buyers to choose communities according to color-coded school ratings posted online. Heights Community Congress (HCC), founded in 1972, is Greater Cleveland, Ohio’s oldest fair housing enforcement organization. For over four decades HCC has been conducting audits of the real estate industry to expose and discourage racial steering and disparate treatment of African American and white home seekers. This blog covered HCC’s preliminary work on educational redlining here.
“Rich People—They’re Just Like Us!” tabloid magazines assure us, and that’s true, at the mitochondrial level. Otherwise, F. Scott Fitzgerald got it right the first time: Rich people are not like the rest of us, and they’ve put a lot of stopgaps in place to make sure it stays that way. I don’t even mean the way they own 43 percent of the country’s wealth domestically and more than 40 percent globally, or how they control the political process, or even how they’ve managed to jigger the justice system so they can literally get away with murder, though those are all related points. I’m talking about the lifestyles and spending habits of the rich (and sometimes, but certainly not always, famous), which are a world—and many, many dollars—apart from the rest of us, just the way they like it.
Toward the end of June, I asked one of the students at the school where I am an assistant principal – a public elementary school located in Manhattan’s Chinatown where 95 percent of students are poor enough to qualify for free lunch – whether she was looking forward to summer vacation. “No,” was her response. “Why not?” I asked. “Because I’m not doing anything,” she replied. Such is the reality for many of New York City’s 1.1 million schoolchildren, who recently [concluded] summer vacation.
I've noticed several CEOs, political pundits and so-called economic experts saying they're confused as to why Americans are so down. Consumers should be out buying stuff, they say, for the economy is humming again. Just look at the key indicators: GDP is growing, corporate profits are high, the stock market is soaring, jobs are being created, the unemployment rate is steadily dropping, and people's disposable income is up.
I doubt there's any student in the world who would object to having Fridays off. But when it comes to policy, the increasing number of American schools moving to a four-day week is not necessarily news to jump for joy about. In fact, it's potentially devastating for parents, school workers and students all left in the lurch by budget cuts. And it's happening more and more, as state and local budgets shrink to tiny levels and raising taxes on the wealthy is somehow considered verboten.
Polls have shown that most of the country is siding with the besieged workers in Wisconsin, many of them teachers, whose livelihoods and fundamental right to bargain have been under attack--and ultimately decimated--by authoritarian, overreaching governor Scott Walker.