In the Press

By M. Sandra Reeves & Sally K. Gifford — March 25, 1992 2 min read

Jonathan Kozol finds an unusual forum for his views on school-funding inequities in the April issue of Playboy. The author of Savage Inequalities is April’s “Playboy Interview.’'

Criticizing the 1980’s deemphasis on “questions of equality,’' he says that President Reagan “has surgically removed the soul of conscience out of our children and replaced it with crass self-interest.’'

Were he the U.S. Secretary of Education, Mr. Kozol says, he would “convince the nation to get rid of property-tax funding for schools’’ and “ask Congress to raise the federal expenditure [on education] from its present 5 percent to 25 percent.’'

“I don’t believe that any rich person wishes poor children harm,’' he says. “Rich people would never put their kids out on the little-league field and say, ‘We’re going to rig the game for our children. ... ' Yet we do permit that rigging in our public schools.’'

Copies of the interview were sent to each of the Presidential candidates, editors said, with a letter urging them to make education a priority.

“America’s 140 Best Schools,’' a first annual ranking of high schools by Redbook, appears in the magazine’s April issue. Winners were chosen for each state, as well as in eight categories (“Overall Excellence’': New Trier High, Winnetka, Ill.).

The selection process included nominations by heads of state education departments and national organizations, as well as research to “identify standout schools that might have been overlooked,’' editors said. Graduate students from Teachers College, Columbia University, culled the 383 responses from nominated schools to select 250 finalists. A panel of 10 experts assembled by Redbook made the final cut.

According to the magazine, judging criteria included parental involvement, student motivation, the challenge of the curriculum, teaching innovation, leadership, and community support.

“Most apprenticeship programs are aimed at producing docile workers,’' claims the consultant and union organizer Hannah Finan Roditi in the March 16 issue of The Nation.

Her article examines the popularity of programs in which high-school students work two to four years with one employer, receiving both a diploma and credits toward an associate’s degree.

Studies of such programs in St. Louis and San Francisco, she says, reveal students who are exploited as cheap labor, isolated from other students, and not given any instruction in career advancement or other workplace issues. Participating businesses, she claims, hold “veto power’’ over potentially controversial course content.

Moreover, the associate credits most work-study students earn are not transferable to a Bachelor of Arts program, she adds, limiting college opportunities.

Though she cites “lonely exceptions’’ to these shortcomings, Ms. Roditi says parents and educators must push for programs that cultivate academically well-rounded students.

A version of this article appeared in the March 25, 1992 edition of Education Week as In the Press