The subtitle for this book is “How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future.” I have to think about a few assumptions I made based on that piece of the title. I expected ‘equity’ to refer to racial equity and because, I thought, she was writing about that kind of equity, I assumed Darling-Hammond was African-American. She is, instead, writing about funding equity in the schools and now that I’ve looked at the back of the book and seen her speak in person, I can say with complete confidence that she’s white.
Anyway, on to the book. This is a thorough, very thorough examination of the origins, consequences and remedies for funding inequities in our schools. Like others, Darling-Hammond points to other countries (Finland, South Korea, Singapore) to show that changes can be made. To be fair, she also points to positive examples in the U.S. – North Carolina under Governor James B. Hunt, for example. (This is probably a reason for Hunt to have declined to provide a glowing blurb for the back of the book, but that’s another matter.) Darling-Hammond’s point holds, though – where there is political will, money and results will follow.
I would have liked Darling-Hammond to put some of her proposed remedies in the form of a dialogue with those who oppose her. I suspect that the outcry opposing some of her funding re-distribution plans would prevent them from happening in the form she advocates.
If you want any evidence for your arguments about public education, it’s here. She’s done the research. The prose can be a bit of a slugfest to get through, but it’s well worth it. We can all learn from this book.