Guillory’s ‘Nudge’ Article

On January 14th, I wrote about the latest education non-profit, EducationNC. In that article, I made an assertion:

Narrative keanuIt is my personal assertion that this organization is less about “nonpartisan news” in education and more about branding and steering education narratives in North Carolina with an eye towards influencing public opinion.

Time will tell, but my gut says this is a PR outfit dressed up as a non-profit. Looking at their board and supporters lends some credence to this hunch; same people, same money.

An article currently up at EducationNC by one of its founders, Ferrel Guillory, seems to be proving that assertion true. The of the article title is, Why Graduating From High School Isn’t Enough.  This article is a fine example of narrative driving. Ironically enough, the article opens with the words, “Rhetoric matters.”

A quick thought or two before proceeding.
Encouraging minorities to continue with education is not new nor should it be disparaged. Encouraging minorities to do so by shifting the playing field in the name of equity should be.  Anyone familiar with the policies of No Child Left Behind or Race To The Top knows that you cannot legislate equality of outcomes and that these initiatives lacked shooting for equity of opportunity.

Also, Guillory cites a NY Times article, The Power of A Simple Nudge, yet doesn’t link to it. Couched in the NY Times piece is the theme that government needs to be involved in a ‘brothers keeper’ style manner by using ‘nudges’ to parents.  Nudge sounds much better than behavioral modification, after all.

Yet as these debates rage, researchers have been quietly finding small, effective ways to improve education. They have identified behavioral “nudges” that prod students and their families to take small steps that can make big differences in learning. These measures are cheap, so schools or nonprofits could use them immediately.

One could argue this ‘nudge’ is less about education as it is about shaping behavior of the public at large. In terms of education, that nudge has become a deluge of money and influence peddling from businesses and corporations dictating to schools how to train their workforce.

Back to the article.

Main thrust: High school diplomas aren’t enough — students must be career ready too.
Gee, where have we heard that before?  

This ‘main thrust’ is supported from the text of the article, note the identification of minorities:

Among the findings that flow out of MDC’s work are these: The South can no longer regard high school graduation as an end-point of education, but rather a transition to more education; and inculcating a culture of higher expectations, particularly among black and Latino adolescents, is critical to elevating state and regional educational outcomes.

In addition to that ‘main thrust’ in the article is the underlying assertion that this problem is particular to or worse in the South. Anyone from cities like Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles or New York City can tell you that it’s not.

Arguably, the South has had a target put on its back for mainly political purposes and this article is part and parcel of a larger narrative that Republicans are to blame; progressives and their allies must coordinate and turn the South blue.

In the above ‘main thrust’ passage, Guillory references MDC. Note MDC’s “living history” section on their site. That history includes a section called, “The 21st Century: Advancing Equity and Opportunity”. 

Civitas’s Mapping The Left is about to get its first use. Here is the profile for MDC at Mapping The Left:

MDC is an organization that has, for nearly 50 years, worked to end poverty in NC. Founded in 1967 out of NC Gov Terry Sanford’s North Carolina Fund the original mission of Manpower Development Corp was started with grant money from Z. Smith Reynolds.

MDC could be called one of the original community organizing groups in the South. In recent years they have branched out into issues such as the environment, immigration, education, social change and government programs such as FEMA. In a ten year period, (2003 to 2013) MDC has received $53,481,171 in grant money to end poverty. The grants can be attributed to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society and North Carolina’s own Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Some of that money can also be attributed N.C. tax dollars from sources such as North Carolina State University, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.


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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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