More than two decades ago, Deborah Meier warned that the idea of democracy was in peril. “Is it ever otherwise?” she asked in the preface to The Power of Their Ideas, her elegantly argued manifesto for public education. A self-described preacher on its behalf, she has spent half a century nurturing “everyone’s inalienable capacity to be an inventor, dreamer, and theorist—to count in the larger scheme of things.”
The following is an excerpt from the new book These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can't Afford to Abandon Our Public Schools by Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi (Beacon Press, 2017), available for purchase on Amazon:
On her “Bridging Differences” blog, educator Deborah Meier began a discussion with Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, on whether urging disadvantaged women to defer childbearing until they had sufficient income (whether from work or marriage) to adequately support their offspring would result in better outcomes for those children. This, in turn, led to an extended discussion (not on the blog, but widely circulated among some education policy experts and commentators by e-mail) about whether alleviating poverty would raise student achievement; whether alleviating poverty through tax reform or income redistribution might be effective for that purpose; whether poor children in the United States have worse outcomes than poor children in other countries; what the best way might be to calculate poverty levels across countries; and whether school reform in the absence of alleviating poverty can be significantly effective.