[Marxism] Class and the "parenting gap" : NYT

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Mon Dec 18 14:59:28 MST 2006

I end to agree with you that, in general, the education system exists 
to sustain our social order. I don't agree with Sayan's post to the 
effect that there is a problem with the home environment that holds 
students back (remember Moynihan?). But, I also think the reality 'on 
the ground' is much more complex and contradictory. Do you have 
children, Mark? Where would you rather send a child of yours, to a 
mainstream NYC "factory school," where students are expected to shut 
up and obey, or one of the various alternative schools, where 
students can at least learn alternative viewpoints and critiques, and 
are expected to think a bit more critically about their social 
environment. I've taught at both, and send my son to the latter. The 
latter is better. For most of us Marxists, we got our political 
education from our parents and/or from life (including butting heads 
with our teachers and schools), but let's not make a virtue of 
necessity (or something like that...). I also recognize the 
limitations of these schools. It's no doubt true that even 
alternative public schools support the status quo (or else they 
wouldn't even be allowed to survive at the margins). A friend was 
fired from a prominent "progressive" alternative school years ago for 
taking to heart the empowerment message and encouraging a student 
solidarity walkout. But, I regard it as, on the whole, positive, that 
my son gets to read Malcolm X, learns to critique the mass media, is 
able to express his opposition to the war in Iraq in his school.


>Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2006 23:58:26 -0500
>From: "Mark Lause" <MLause at cinci.rr.com>
>Subject: RE: [Marxism] Class and the "parenting gap" : NYT
>Apologies to Robert Owen, but he was dead wrong on this.  He had the excuse
>of being honestly and honorably wrong, because it hadn't been tried.
>After over 150 years, though, can't we just give up on this delusion.  Most
>recently, these institutions and structures also set for themselves the task
>of eliminating race and racism, etc.  I dare say, any consideration of
>practical results would have to concede that it really hasn't gone well at
>It is a depressing reality that the entire educational system--top to bottom
>and every nook and cranny--exists to maintain the status quo, including
>class distinctions...and most definitely NOT to equalize things and
>eliminate class.  And every single "progressive" educational reform
>introduced allegedly to do the latter always ends up doing the former.
>It's an institutionally embedded outcome.

Michael Friedman
Doctoral Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Molecular Systematics Laboratory
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street at Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

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