Our test scores were crap all along: On recent Sundays, we have stared at a weekly feature in the Washington Post Outlook section.
We’ve stared at the section’s “Five Myths” feature. For last Sunday’s example, click here.
By now, the paper has pretty much run out of topics about which it can debunk five myths. But how about “Five Myths About Our Public Schools?” As far as we know, the Post has never gone there!
This Sunday, that could change!
Just in case you couldn’t tell, Slate is owned by the Washington Post. Yesterday, this piece appeared at Slate. In the piece, Claremont professor David Drew debunks five myths about science education.
This is Drew’s first myth:
MYTH: American schools have deteriorated in the past 30 or 40 years, as demonstrated by our poor performance on international assessments of math and science achievement. We need to restore American elementary and secondary education to their previous glory.Even though Drew is excessively gloomy, people ought to know such facts. In Saturday’s Washington Post, readers saw something quite different:
FACT: The mantra from many educators and policy-makers for a quarter-century has been to lament the decline of American schools. Even the classic 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,” which sounded the alarm about the American education system, says, “What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur—others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.” But this is a flawed assessment of our past.
The fact that we score poorly now does not mean that our educational system has deteriorated. In fact, it was always bad. Our high school students have always scored at or near the bottom, even as our college and university system was, and is, the best in the world. In a 1965 mathematics assessment, 18 years prior to “A Nation at Risk,” the United States placed last among all nations tested. The other nations achieved mean scores from 36.4 to 21.6. The U.S. score: 13.8.
“Our K-12 schools have slid from the best in the world to mediocre under both Republican and Democratic presidents and governors.” So Matt Miller oddly said, repeating a type of claim which suffuses our public discussion. See yesterday's DAILY HOWLER.
Were our K-12 schools ever best in the world? As far as we know, that’s just fiction. But then, our public discourse is fictitious all the way down.
Is Drew’s piece on its way to Outlook? Many myths about public schools drive our current pseudo-discussions. Everyone from Gail Collins on down enjoys telling stupid false tales about schools.
Our pundits all say they care about schools. In truth, it seems no one does.