Spotlighting Inequality and Injustice
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/09/2014
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20814
Swerdlow reviews Naison's "Badass Teachers Unite!", Heckman's "Giving Kids a Fair Chance", and Marsh's "Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality" in order to discuss whether more education is the solution to income inquality in the United States.
In a single paragraph headed "Predistribution, Not Redistribution," Heckman argues, "redistribution . . . does not, by itself, improve long-term social mobility or inclusion." This implicitly shifts his goal away from the avoidance of "low lifetime earnings . . ." etc. to greater social cohesion and mobility.
If Heckman glosses over the issue of predistribution vs. redistribution and their respective effectiveness, John Marsh, a professor of English at Penn State University, explores and plumbs it. In Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn our Way Out of Inequality, Marsh makes a forceful and well-documented argument why redistribution is the only effective way to make inroads against inequality.
First, he develops the point that, even if every single person in the United States moved from unskilled to skilled (to use Heckman's categories), it would not create a single additional well-paying, safe, interesting job with benefits: "Conferring a degree on someone does not magically generate a job .... into which . . . the . . . person steps . . . "
Rather, "the question is not whether the [unskilled] jobs exist -- they will -- but what they will pay. More education does not . . . make them pay more."