Winter 2007 Issue 3

Winter 2007 Issue 3

Introduction: 

This issue is about education. Education has always been so important that no society permits it to go unregulated. In Baltimore, a large group of high school students, in what has been called the “Algebra Project” has challenged the control of the Board of Education through strikes, rallies, and a citizen ’s arrest of the state superintendent. Most recently Project participants have organized a shadow Board of Education. At stake are millions of dollars in school funding. We tell the story in Three articles. The Algebra Project is among the latest episodes in the history of struggles to determine the meaning of “equal protection of the law.” We briefly review the legal history of the steps towards equal educational opportunity. Toward the end of this issue the editors present capsule descriptions of other educational experiments. While they are a long way from the Independence School in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, they share a common struggle against the commodification of education and for self-directed education. Although they vary philosophically they share a common approach to students: Summerhill, a middle class school with a radical focus on student self-direction and participatory democracy, the anarchist academy of Francisco Ferrer, and the focus on political oppression of Paolo Freire –all combined self-education and political independence. The Highlander School, like the others, saw education as a tool for social change and directed its resources to teaching community activists and union members. We look at the overt militarism of some of our local schools from the weapons designers at Johns Hopkins to the military training of teenagers in Junior ROTC. Finally, we review the covert tracking of working class students in the high schools and community colleges. —HJE

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