Berliner was the keynote speaker during the eighth annual Summer Institute on Educational Justice at the University, with an address themed "Inequality, Poverty, and School Achievement: Relationships too Powerful to Ignore."
The educational system in the United States is in terrible condition, he said, and it's only going to get worse if we continue on its current path.
"I believe Bush was wrong, Obama is wrong and the Democrats and the Republicans are all wrong," Berliner said. "They'd rather blame a person or a group; like the unions, teachers, minorities or a culture. They need to look in the mirror and say we are all to blame."
"We have social problems in this country more than we have educational problems in this country," Berliner said. "We are running a society with great irony."
We have become overwhelmed by inequality and poverty. It's a pendulum and it has to be brought back," he said.
Berliner said the term "achievement gap" erased terms like equal education and opportunity. He said "achievement gap" related more to the outcome of schools while the progress of the student was pushed aside.
"We went from worrying about the character of students that came into schools, to worrying about the product that came out," Berliner said. "Children were not important. If you are worried about the achievement gap, you are worried about the outcome of the school."
"This is data I can put a face to," said Elizabeth Kelly, a teacher at Oak View High School near Yucaipa. "You can't get away from that. It is unattractive, it is unpleasant, it is embarrassing and it's tragic."
Berliner said the educational system took a turn for the worse in the 1970s when the focus was placed on "Output" instead of "Input." Berliner said "Output" represents short term measurable results with pressure applied on the schools and kids. "Input" was the leaving behind of adequate equitable resources, professional development and opportunities to learn.
Berliner opened the all-day conference at the University, which also included three breakout sessions.