An Educational War on Poverty: American and British by Harold Silver

By Harold Silver

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A survey had revealed that variations in verbal skills were directly attributable to socio-economic background rather than to race, and 'the findings of this study supplied further evidence of the damaging effects of social inequalities in our society' (A: Church and Eisman, 1968, i-ii). While later critiques of the analysis based on environment and early intervention focused on the ways these 'blamed' the child, it is important to remember that Deutsch in particular addressed the problems of the school as an agency of discrimination and perpetuation of the status quo.

In 1954 Keppel, then Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard, wrote in his annual report that the Supreme Court decision would probably be for historians the most important event of the year, and at the same time he offered what proved to be an accurate picture of what lay ahead: Experience has shown that the American people cheerfully put tasks on the shoulders of the school systems with little realization of the difficulties involved. The national optimism about what education can accomplish is both a blessing 22 A pattern of events: United States and a danger.

Federal aid to education was widely seen as being unnecessary - as public assistance of all kinds had come to be viewed with suspicion - or dangerous, with an implicit threat of federal control or interference, and the undermining of local freedom and democracy. Movements and proposals for general aid - including by President Truman - collapsed in the 1950s at least partly for fear of federal control as creeping communism - one of a trio of obstacles described by Bailey as the 3 R's, 'reds, race and religion' (interview).

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