chapter  1
13 Pages

INTRODUCTION: Social Space and the Political Economy of Comprehensively Conceived Education

These three quotes-the fi rst from the leading politician on U.S. education today, the second from a notable intellectual, and the fi nal from a youth in South Central Los Angeles in 2004-bring together the core themes raised in this volume: space,

education, and the co-constitutive inequality between the two. On the one hand, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks to the historical and ongoing limitations of schooling while implicitly alluding to Capitol Hill’s continued faith in the possibilities of educational excellence and equity in and through school reform. On the other hand, Illich refers to the impossibility of educational equality, even with equal schooling. Moreover, both Illich and Dragon refer to the inequality of educational opportunities outside of schooling, where many out-of-school resources are afforded to the children and youth of affl uent communities, and to the lack of opportunities for socially and economically marginalized communities. Dragon expresses not only the dearth of educational opportunities in his social reality but also his desire for something more. The “advantages” that Illich refers to and that Dragon desires are the everyday experiences of a broader understanding of education. This understanding of education posits that the process of education is much more comprehensive than schooling and has been enabled only for those of the socially privileged spaces within society. This broader understanding of education is what the U.S. Secretary of Education seemingly overlooks in his criticisms of the legacy of federal policy on schooling.