Via Professor Plum, Wisconsin education professor Martin Haberman has a long and outraged essay over the state of education in inner cities. A central problem that Haberman identifies: Self-serving bureaucrats in central offices. Here's a key paragraph:
The reason that several hundred thousand of these central office functionaries in 120 districts can get away with, indeed be rewarded for, the unforgivable mass educational killing of children is that these are children of color and children in poverty. If the suburban and small town schools of Wisconsin had a graduation rate of 36% (the current graduation rate for African Americans in my city) there would not be an air of calm “professionalism” in the central offices, or at the school board, or in the streets outside the schools. The parents (and their lawyers) would be engaged in activities that would be closing down the system. The Governor would be calling out the National Guard to protect school property and convening a special session of the state legislature. The President as well as the Secretary of Education would be making personal visits and commitments promising immediate change. The universities, business associations, and community organizations would be holding forums and meetings. Churches would be holding all night vigils. The local foundations would be funding special studies and action task forces. The media would keep the story on page one until the system was changed. If the victims of such horrendous miseducation were white children in small towns and suburbs rather than urban minority children and children in poverty the dysfunctional bureaucracy would not survive one year let alone be allowed to grow even worse every year for over half a century.