The Wire and Education

23:50 Thu 06 Dec 2007. Updated: 00:53 07 Dec 2007
[, , ]

I’ve been watching the fourth season of The Wire, and it’s amazing, just like the previous three seasons. Gritty and depressing in parts, but amazing. This season has a significant focus on the public school system in Baltimore, and stands as a scathing critique of that system.

The messages aren’t new, but it explores how the education system ties into the crime, the law enforcement, the death of communitiy, and the poverty problems. One of the most dispiriting aspects—experienced as such by one of theshow’s characters—is a technical detail whereby the schools get government money allocated based on how many children take at least one class in September and at least one in October, so the schools send out people to act as one-time truant officers to bring kids in for two days. While the individual school administrators, and probably the individual schools, have the necessity of such tactics fall upon them, it’s still a clear mark of a system gone rather insane.

“Teaching to the tests” is also exposed for the idiocy it is, but it should be obvious to any rational observer that massive bureaucracies are always going to tweak the statistics rather than institute real change—especially when real change is hard, and when real learning is a direct challenge to the essentialy penal nature of the bureaucracy.

Time to read John Taylor Gatto more thoroughly.

Leave a Reply