Dear Josie: Witnessing the Hopes and Failures of Democratic by Joseph Featherstone

By Joseph Featherstone

As an educator and journalist who has been heavily looking at faculties for greater than 3 many years, Joseph Featherstone is a robust voice within the fight for greater education in our country. This much-needed and wonderfully written assortment testifies to the significance of respecting kid's minds, teaching all young ones, the craft of educating, and democratic values.

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The most interesting scholarship on the family tends to be romantic in one sense or another. It dissents from the conventions of objectivity, yet is bothered, as all Romantic scholarship ought to be, by the question of validity. Here, as elsewhere, it is evident that the troubled soul of the 60s goes marching on. Our conversation begins to resemble that in the last scene in Eugene O’Neill’s (1956) great family drama, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Sitting together in a dwindling pool of light, the darkness growing, the family talks on.

That’s good, but the framework remains atomistic. The new liberalism expresses compassion for people; yet at its roots it remains the philosophy of Charles Dickens’s (1854) Gradgrind, who believed that only self-interest holds society together. The new Gradgrindism reflects the prevalence of economists in our policy debates, a curious phenomenon, since conventional economics has virtually admitted that it cannot solve inflation or unem- Family Matters 25 ployment problems. This basically economic outlook shows its roots in classical liberalism through its constant efforts to restore vanishing market mechanisms and to bypass any sort of solution that might require people to work together.

The inquests into the pathologies of these institutions go on. As their stock sinks, the stock of the family rises. Here again there are interesting precedents. In the mid-60s, the controversial Moynihan Report (1965) stressed the pathology of the Black family and the supposed legacy of slavery, arguing for government policies that would support families. The Moynihan Report offered us a warning for the 70s and 80s in the way it tangled its plea for full employment with its own therapeutic and moralizing arguments.

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