School’s out

How did education come to rule discussions of reducing inequality and poverty in America? For John Marsh, a professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, this is not just a rhetorical question. In Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality, he surveys policies and theories—from colonial times to the present—and shares his personal experiences to help us better grasp the concrete limits of making a formal education the rather than a path to prosperity. He calls for more focus on jobs and public policy as exit paths from the misery that poverty and low income bring, officially, to about every sixth person in the United States. In an introduction, five chapters, notes and index on the Gini coefficient that measures social-class inequality, Marsh presents a controversial but uncomplicated case that education alone is unable to reap economic justice. His is a timely book. Read it now.