Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes:
A rich country with millions of poor people. A country that prides itself on being the land of opportunity, but in which a child’s prospects are more dependent on the income and education of his or her parents than in other advanced countries. A country that believes in fair play, but in which the richest often pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than those less well off. A country in which children every day pledge allegiance to the flag, asserting that there is “justice for all,” but in which, increasingly, there is only justice for those who can afford it. These are the contradictions that the United States is gradually and painfully struggling to come to terms with as it begins to comprehend the enormity of the inequalities that mark its society.
Read more here.
Free access to the beta version of a remarkable new textbook that aims to change economics education:
For a review by Econ4′s David Bollier, see here.
“An international network of rethinkers coming together to demystify, diversify, and invigorate economics”:
German students organize for new economic thinking:
There is growing demand from students around the world for profound changes in how economics is being taught:
We, 42 associations of economics students from 19 different countries, believe it is time to reconsider the way economics is taught. We are dissatisfied with the dramatic narrowing of the curriculum that has taken place over the last couple of decades. This lack of intellectual diversity does not only restrain education and research. It limits our ability to contend with the multidimensional challenges of the 21st century – from financial stability, to food security and climate change. The real world should be brought back into the classroom, as well as debate and a pluralism of theories and methods. This will help renew the discipline and ultimately create a space in which solutions to society’s problems can be generated.
Read more here.
And The Guardian‘s coverage here.
Students at Manchester University lay out the case for changes in economics education:
In short, we argue for pluralism of perspectives and the inclusion of ethics, history and politics. We advocate an approach that begins with economic phenomena and then gives students a toolkit to evaluate how well different perspectives can explain it. The discipline should be conceptualised as an ecosystem, as the importance of diversity and the cross-fertilisation of paradigms are key to success.
Read more here.
For some background on this initiative, see here.
Demand from students for reality-based, ethically grounded economics is growing around the world:
When the financial crisis hit in 2007, economics students at respected institutions around the world found that theories handed down in classrooms failed to explain the reality outside, and an international movement began to demand a change in the way economics is taught.
Read more here.
In his classic novel Animal Farm, George Orwell famously wrote that “some are more equal than others.” Turns out the same is true for public education in the United States. Eduardo Porter’s column in the Times explains why America’s educational playing field is far from level:
The United States is one of few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children usually have more educational resources than those serving poor students, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among the 34 O.E.C.D. nations, only in the United States, Israel and Turkey do disadvantaged schools have lower teacher/student ratios than in those serving more privileged students.
Andreas Schleicher, who runs the O.E.C.D.’s international educational assessments, put it to me this way: “The bottom line is that the vast majority of O.E.C.D. countries either invest equally into every student or disproportionately more into disadvantaged students. The U.S. is one of the few countries doing the opposite.”
Read his piece here.
Jason Sattler writes that Senator Elizabeth Warren is asking a good question:
Why does the government give the big banks a better deal than it gives students?
It’s question so perfect that people can’t stop talking about it.
The first standalone bill from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would not only prevent student loan rates from doubling, it would cut them down to the same rate the Fed charges banks to borrow money overnight for the next 12 months. And the idea has taken off like wildfire, with more than 400,000 people signing on to support the legislation.
Read more here.
For many Americans, Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz writes, the dream of upward mobility is being subverted by the reality of unequal opportunity:
Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After World War II, Europe made a major effort to democratize its education systems. We did, too, with the G.I. Bill, which extended higher education to Americans across the economic spectrum. But then we changed, in several ways. While racial segregation decreased, economic segregation increased. After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. Disparities widened between those living in poor localities and those living in rich suburbs — or rich enough to send their kids to private schools. A result was a widening gap in educational performance…
In some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity: government support for many state schools has been steadily gutted over the last few decades — and especially in the last few years. Meanwhile, students are crushed by giant student loan debts that are almost impossible to discharge, even in bankruptcy. This is happening at the same time that a college education is more important than ever for getting a good job.
A level playing field is a key element of Econ4′s vision of how an economy that works for people, the planet and the future.