Monday Reading List: Sexism Now and Then, Presidential Choices, and School Options

I, like many of you, watched the debate last night, which I characterized thusly:

I proposed a series of thoughts at the end of the night, including these:

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The other existential issue with which I'm wrestling right now is how, and whether, our country moves forward as an inclusive place, after a large plurality commits to supporting a candidate whose views are "sexist, racist, and xenophobic," to use the measured words of The Atlantic.

Elsewhere in The Atlantic, Emma Green looks at how men in higher education reacted to greater gender inclusivity in the 1960s, in an interview with author Nancy Weiss Malkiel:

The history of university coeducation is particularly interesting at this moment in America, when the country is poised to elect its first woman president ... Clinton graduated before conversations about the possibility of coeducation at Wellesley began in earnest, Malkiel said in an interview, but the speech she gave at her senior commencement in 1969 speaks to the era in which she came of age. She spoke about protest, and encouraged her fellow students to try and improve their imperfect world. While she would go onto Yale law school, where she and her female peers were surely not “drags,” in that moment she spoke from a world—Wellesley—in which women’s leadership was the default. While the first women showed up at schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton nearly 50 years ago, their experiences may seem eerily similar to the women who are still becoming “firsts” today ...

It is predictable, if lamentable, that the imminent election of the country's first woman president has led to an increase in public sexism and chauvinism. My bet is that those of us trying to fight back against sexism today will be better equipped if we understand that today's brand is rooted in the sexism of the past. Understanding the patterns, arguments, and mindsets of the 1960s can be helpful in combating those same issues today.

In other news, Ikhlas Saleem covers a panel at Howard University, where a group of Black leaders wrestled with big questions surrounding school choice. She unpacks some of the core, underlying issues of the ongoing charter schools debate:

I lack the hope that one day soon Congress will wake up and say, “I think every Black child and child of color in America deserves a high-quality education and that’s going to be our top priority until it happens.” I hold no high expectations for a government that has, up to now, failed to value my life. But hey, I get it. I’ve been in the world long enough to understand that fear of “corporatization.” The imposition of services deceptively provided to improve the quality of life of Black families only to lack any measures of accountability and do more harm than good—the payday loans, the ITT Tech’s, the neighborhood improvement projects that only lead to gentrification and push the Black residents out. And like the traditional public school system, some charter schools have failed us, too, and I’m sure there will be some that continue to fail us. But what we can’t shy away from and put a cap on are the ones that are seeing continued success—and a lot of charter schools that are seeing success are those being run by people of color.

Saleem's coverage offers an accessible entry point into a debate that has been mischaracterized by the media's broad strokes. There are some issues on which communities of color are relatively united, like, oh I don't know, the fitness of Donald Trump to be president. School choice, it turns out, is not one of them.

Quibila Divine at Yo Philly breaks down similar issues at a local level:

Clearly, schools that are underperforming will continue to underperform until families within those surrounding school communities rise up, speak up and step up.  Families cannot wait on so-called “education advocates,” administrators or educators to help them help their children ... In cities all across America, career politicians have even turned their backs on constituents in an attempt to please those who pay to play. As long as these same “education advocates” and politicians can choose where they send their children, they will rarely fight for you and your low income child to have the same choices as they do.  It is called privilege and it is what separates the haves from the have nots.  Be reminded, “No one is going to come into your community and do for you what you must do for yourselves.”

Divine and Saleem offer a challenge to policymakers: consider our actual interests, or deal with the consequences. Have a great week!