Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Maybe Teachers Aren't To Blame For Every Terrible Thing

"Though you would never know it from the state of public alarm about education, the numbers show that regular public school performance has skyrocketed in the last two decades to the point that, for example, black elementary school students now have better math skills than whites had only 20 years ago. (There has also been progress for middle schoolers, and in reading; and less, but not insubstantial, progress for high schoolers.) The reason test score gaps have barely narrowed is that white students have also improved, at least at the elementary and middle school levels. The causes of these truly spectacular gains are unknown, but they are probably inconsistent with the idea that typical inner-city teachers are content to watch students wrestle on the classroom floor instead of learning."
—This critique of Steven Brill's Let's Blame The Teacher Unions is worth your time.

9 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#1,720)

Can't we both blame teachers unions AND be happy there have been improvements in reading?

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@deepomega Pick a side!

deepomega (#1,720)

@boyofdestiny Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

ogradybt (#3,914)

What was the net change in the quality of this discussion following the release of "Waiting for Superman"? I feel like there was just as much intelligent criticism of that movie, but the overarching narrative (Unions Breed Lazy Teachers) still sticks in the mainstream press. How many times do we need to go through this?

Jean-Luc Lemur (#13,931)

@ogradybt Because that’s how it usually plays out in the policy arena. Teachers’ unions are an easy thing for politicians and bureaucrats to make a stand against or demand changes from, whereas to make real strides in performance (which goes way beyond unions) requires lots of dedicated, complex work with tons of extra actors, making it much harder to implement (and take credit for). Also, a lot of that stuff doesn’t scale well, either, so it’s expensive too.

turd_sandwich (#5,660)

@ogradybt Ugh. The first time I saw someone toot KIPP's horn was at an American Enterprise Institute briefing seven years ago. The left is playing right into the hands of the folks that want to divert even more public money into private hands, with the acceptance of union-bashing a major part of the problem.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Hey, when whoever has the time machine is done with it, I want to go back and let Albert Shanker know how things are playing out.

davetar (#1,114)

"Scholars also observe that even if test scores were accurate, holding teachers accountable for math and reading scores creates incentives to minimize attention to the sciences, history, civics, the arts and music, physical education, and character development."

At least we won't have to worry about running out of Republicans!

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