An Educational War on Poverty: American and British by Harold Silver

By Harold Silver

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The ' old' poverty of previous generations contained elements of hope and aspiration, but the 'new' poverty was impervious to hope, as the poor were imprisoned in their culture of poverty, inescapable conditions, and a society which demanded increasing credentials to which the poor had little access. Paying tribute to Galbraith's pioneering attempt to present the issues, Harrington underlined that his own calculation of 40-50 million Americans living in poverty disposed of arguments about 'case' or 'insular' poverty.

Conant's anger caused one kind of ripple, his solutions caused others. One of his central proposals was to provide an improved secondary curriculum, which, by incorporating a strong strand of vocational education, would better enable disadvantaged youth to make a transition to employment. This approach to the problem had been controversial since the debates about vocational education in the early decades of the century, and among other things seemed to be attacking the schools for failing to provide appropriate curricula.

The final indication of the importance of these years was the publication in 1964 of an issue of the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development which contained papers delivered at a December 1962 Arden House Conference on Pre-School Enrichment of Socially Disadvantaged Children. Deutsch's Institute had been one of the sponsors - and Deutsch himself wrote the introduction to the issue of the Quarterly. The purpose of the conference, he wrote, had been to 'explore from various directions the possibilities for accelerating the cognitive development of young children', focusing particularly but not exclusively on children 'from disadvantaged circumstances'.

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