Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

download-617135_1280We all are struggling with ways to explain what is happening with our schools.  Why would our country, of all countries, seem to encourage privatization of our schools?

There is an undercurrent in our political and social structure that seems counter to the American Dream.  Do we know think of ‘our kids’ as ‘my kids’ and ‘those other kids over there’?  If so, how does this view affect the choices we make?  What prospects do children have?

There is a new book out that can inform our understanding.

I listened to the author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis on NPR this morning.  It is written by Robert Putnam, a political scientist from Harvard.  He is the author of Bowling Alone (about the middle class) which received more than high praise internationally.  I looked up a review of ‘Our Kids’ in the Washington Post.  You can read it here.

I am ordering the book.  I hope it will help us articulate the issues we face with school choice in a manner that underscores its importance for our fundamental sense of fairness.

My testing background recognizes that there are ‘no easy answers’.  My unyielding optimism, however, hopes that the book will provide ways to articulate the consequences of choices we make that transcend partisan political debates.  Or, maybe those debates are simply mirrors of the concerns that Putnam documents.  In either case, we need to find better ways to communicate.  Hopefully, some of you will also help identify sources.

Posted in Reform.


  1. After I read this post, I went immediately to my Alachua Count library and put Putnam’s book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, on reserve. They have 3 of these books on order.
    Alachua County, FL is a big, involved, well educated county with lots of people that are concerned about lots of problems. I was shocked to be the only one on the reserve list for this book!

    • I received a message from Texas today about Dallas’s failed charter for a Home Rule school district. The message included the comment “We realize most people most people don’t know about (charter schools) and certainly don’t know how for-profits can be involved in their management.” I include the comment because we have come to the same conclusion in Florida. People whom you would think would be aware of the privatization of schools, are not. My own awareness of the implications of charters and vouchers has grown over the last few years. How we articulate and communicate the problems is crucial. The solutions will evolve?

      • You ask a very tough question, Sue! I think about the failed LWV education study. No consensus could be reached and we weren’t even talking about charter schools. I think we need to go back to convention in 2016 and somehow push the issue. For profit charters need to be outlawed, but in the present conservative,” private sector beats all” mantra I don’t know how you make it happen!

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