And in meritocracy news…

From the New York schools, comes this heartwarming story:

If you’re at a hedge fund, this is definitely the hot cause,” said Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a nonprofit group that lobbies for charters and is financed by hedge fund heavies. … That hedge fund multimillionaires have embraced the charter movement may seem odd: their own children are unlikely ever to see the inside of a neighborhood school, and there are more traditional routes to social prominence through philanthropy, like support of hospitals and cultural institutions. But to those who know the sociology of Wall Street, it makes sense. Charter schools appeal to the maverick instincts of many who run hedge funds.

Meanwhile, down the ribbon of highway in Los Angeles…

A showdown between the Los Angeles Unified School District Board and the teachers union was pushed to the limit Tuesday, with passage of a budget plan calling for massive layoffs over the next two years. … Analysts say the average class size in LAUSD schools would jump from 24 to 29 students because of the cuts. The plan that was approved Tuesday would cut 5,000 jobs by 2011. About 1,400 of those jobs would belong to teachers. That follows the layoff of 2,000 teachers during the current school year.

If you’re having trouble reconciling the reality of unequal opportunity – which comes from the patchwork funding system based on local resources and the whims of millionaires – with the ideal of meritocracy, of discovering and nurturing the abilities and interests of every student, regardless of the circumstances of their birth – I recommend developing a mission statement like this one:

It shall be the mission of the District to educate all of its students to the fullest capacity possible of each student. This shall include the opportunity to develop, within a comprehensive curriculum, the ability to think logically, independently, and creatively, and to communicate effectively.

It can’t hurt.

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