As part of this week’s reading for my policy course, we’ve been asked to take a look at Charles Murray’s seminal tome, Losing Ground. While my reaction to the text is different than my reading of Dewey’s Experience & Education, it seemed this might be a good chance to put another side of the argument into perspective.
In Ch. 3, Murray walks readers through the shift in thinking from the intelligentsia of the mid-to-late 60s. Before digging in to the one sentence that made it incredibly difficult for me to continue reading this chapter, let me outline some of the common cause I was able to muster from these pages.
Murray outlines what he describes as a certain way of thinking becoming unfashionable during the time period. Pre-1964 thinking was that those unhappy with their jobs should take matters into their own hands to change their position and, recognizing the difficulties inherent in that premise, the system was doing all it could to help them. Murray’s argument here was 1964 exposed the faulty nature of the second premise and thereby the impossibility of the first.
Where we find common ground is in his conversation of how the shift took place and the lack of conversation or dialogue – the lack of a difficult conversation – about what should be done and what was right.
There was no great debate in the interim, no moment at which the nation could observe itself changing its national policy. The change happened unannounced.
Charles Murray. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980, 10th Anniversary Edition (p. 45). Kindle Edition.
Somewhere in the last few years, the sentiment above shifted to reflect the lack of conversation or debate in how we set the fashionable education reforms that are currently en vogue.
Where Murray lost me, was with the following sentence:
Before 1964, blacks were unique. They constituted the only group suffering discrimination so pervasive and so persistent that laws for that group were broadly accepted as necessary.
Charles Murray. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980, 10th Anniversary Edition (p. 43). Kindle Edition.
I don’t know what to say about that belief or to that belief, so I’m going to let it sit in my brain for a while.