Monday, September 22, 2014

Whom Does the Engine Train?

"In spite of our collective belief that education is the engine for climbing the socioeconomic ladder ― the heart of the 'American dream' myth colleges now are divided by wealth more than ever," Vicki Madden, a veteran teacher and instructor, observes in her New York Times op-ed. As a token student in my era, I am not surprised. As data amassed by Profs. Michael Bastedo and Ozan Jaquette reveal, only 14 percent of students in America's 193 most selective colleges come from the bottom half of her socioeconomic strata and just 5 percent from its lowest quartile. The more elite the school, the greater the gap, not only among students' financial status but the students themselves. "As the income gap widens and hardens, changing class means a bigger difference between where you came from and where you are going," Madden concludes. Ah, there's the rub. The price demanded for a better life for self and family should not be the abandonment and even betrayal of  your people, the kith and kin left behind where you came from. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sense on Censorship

"If the concept of censorship is extended to everything, it means nothing," Robert Darnton, Harvard's head librarian, cautions in The New York Review of Books, calling to mind analogous labels broadly applied in an attempt to stifle debate on matters to which they do not properly apply. For those genuinely concerned with defending the principle purportedly under assault, however, such charges  or, not infrequently,  slanders ― are far too grave to be trivialized for partisan gain and thereby increasingly discredited among the remnant who yet dare to think for themselves. As censorship is essentially a political sword wielded by the State, Prof. Darnton, author of the upcoming Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature, is well suited to address it.