I’ve always had a problem with the whole call for “tougher standards” in education. I’m all for a clearly defined curriculum, but, if students aren’t learning well, then trouncing more of them won’t make them any smarter. This just seems like more ‘will-based’ policies. Thankfully, Bob Somerby provides a much-needed smackdown to conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks (italics original):
Offering utterly silly Good News, Brooks tells us that Superintendent Gallo “got the concessions she needed to try to improve” Central Falls High. In fact, the concessions were remarkably puny; no one with an ounce of sense would think they will address the mammoth problems the press has described at this struggling school. But it’s entirely possible that Brooks doesn’t know this. You see, in modern journalistic culture, high-minded people like Wolfe and Brooks feel free to write about public schools in the absence of any real background or knowledge. In this way, they show their love for the nation’s “educational experts”–and their contempt for low-income kids….
As major pundits know they must do, Brooks praises the notion of “tougher standards.” But how exactly will “tougher standards” help the kids at Central Falls High? In the past year, mainstream reporters have endlessly gaped at the low passing rates achieved at this school. Of course, those low passing rates were achieved under current standards.
Question: If these deserving kids can’t meet the current easier standards, why would they flourish if standards get tougher?
Good question. Because, ultimately, I don’t think this is about outcomes as much as it is justification of certain ideologies and perspectives. Intelligent Designer forbid that we actually tackle something like poverty, poor resources, and poorly designed curricula–or even simply admit these might have something to do with the problem. It’s much easier to tell the kids to pedal faster….