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December 13, 2011


Have you read David Labaree's new book SOMEONE HAS TO FAIL? I think you'll find he offers a view of educational history that aligns well with the interpretation you offer.

In 2002, the Center for Education Policy made the same observation vis-a-vis online learning. See, e.g.,: ht.ly/7Ylc3

We can only hope that your article helps to take the reform school action in an important and proper direction away from its current domination by those who either are profiteers in the evidence-be-damned group, are political dependents of the profiteers, or are simply public education criticss in the equally ignorance-based Floyd R. Turbo group. In the meantime, year-after-year of children passes by, protected from the reform schoolers mainly by their parents and teachers.

If Bronx Science had truly focused on values rather than test scores, I would rather have expected their test scores to go up! Focusing on test scores generally seems to result in a lowering of test scores.

I agree that student achievement shouldn't be the sole goal of schooling, but where's the evidence that government-run schools (and government-run schools only) provide "civic, social and artistic benefits?"

Great piece, Dana, but you state in the last paragraph that Valerie Reidy's pedagogical approach focuses on the inquiry method. This is not accurate. Valerie Reidy promotes "guided discovery," not inquiry learning, though she claims a link. There is a huge difference. Guided discovery involves the teacher taking her students through a series of very specific step-by-step questions or statements so they arrive at a specific predetermined goal. Inquiry learning does not have a predetermined goal - its purpose is to engage students in activities in which they can develop their own questions, investigate, analyze and problem-solve to come to their own understandings, with a teacher's active support and guidance. Inquiry learning respects independent thinking. It would appear from her treatment of teachers, that Reidy does not.

" I've been struck again and again by the newness of the idea that schooling is primarily a matter of academic achievement. "

How can you be shocked by this? It's a direct result of our decision to make closing the achievement gap the primary objective. You must know that. Nothing else matters until we close it--and since we can't close it, we're stuck. Until we accept that we can't close it, nothing else will matter.

My experience of 35 years in public education is that schools are vehicles for training middle class students to function successfully in the world (and, in the last few generations, to get into college, where the work of assimilation continues). It's no accident that the rise of education paralleled the rise of the middle class, and that the goals of education through the last couple centuries mirrored the concerns of the middle class. This is why we are not succeeding: our goal is inappropriate to the institution and inappropriate to the vast population of students who cannot benefit from it.

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