Most important documentary I’ve seen in a long time. He lets the facts speak for themselves about income inequality, revealing why it is the defining economic issue of our times. Educators take note. This is a social justice issue that touches everyone and is revealed in the race-based and class-based segregation in our schools.
As Reich shows, it is driving political polarization. Not only are we now “bowling alone,” we’re also being turned away from our neighbors because of how extreme and virulent the political discourse has become in this country. Ask your students what they think…
This is a powerful, beautiful poem by Philip Levine. His book of poems with the same title is wonderful. In its Whitman-esque way, it celebrates the dignity and honor in true work. Find an audio version here: http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/levine/what_work_is.php.
What Work Is
We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is–if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don’t know what work is.
Income inequality is driving Americans apart and, as Robert Reich has demonstrated (watch his documentary “Inequality for All,” causing political polarization. We need educators who can show our students who really is behind the curtain, the plutocrats pulling the levers. We are so much more alike than different, but money and political influence are driving us apart in this winner-take-all society. We need to lead the way in teaching for social justice.
I saw Pasi Sahlberg deliver this powerpoint at URI on the Finnish educational system and its place in the world. He is a brilliant thinker. Here is a link to the powerpoint itself: http://pasisahlberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Denver-Talk-2014.pdf
The color of punishment in our schools.
“The fact that minority children at age 4 are already being disproportionately suspended or expelled is an outrage. The pattern of exclusion suggests that schools are giving up on these children when they are barely out of diapers. It runs counter to the very mission of early education, which is to promote school readiness. It harms children emotionally at an age when they are incapable of absorbing lessons from this form of punishment. And it places those children at greater risk of falling behind, dropping out or becoming permanently involved with the juvenile justice system.”
I hope that this editorial–based on a recent report by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights–is read by many, many people.