FIVE KEY POINTS AND ELEVEN SOLUTIONS:
The New York Times and the PISA cult!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2013

Interlude—Functional illiterates: As many have noted, sometimes unwisely, anti-intellectualism can be a troubling strain in the American fabric.

We liberals tend to focus on the anti-intellectualism associated with the red state South. We tend to look away from the anti-intellectualism which pervades our mainstream and liberal cultures.

That powerful strain of anti-intellectualism may service the needs of our global elites. In a relentless series of columns, Paul Krugman has shown how our economic discourse is shaped by such elites, then enabled by the cluelessness and obedience of the mainstream press corps.

A similar process shapes and controls our discourse about public schools. And alas:

This morning, the anti-intellectualism of the New York Times editorial board has been put on its fullest display. In a section-filling editorial, its members join the international cult of the PISA, making a blindingly foolish appraisal of our current public schooling.

This morning, the anti-intellectualism belongs to the 19-member editorial board of the Times. Of its nineteen members, only one, Brent Staples, lists education as one of his areas of specialization. Staples also lists criminal justice and economics as areas of expertise.

If memory serves, no one on the board was listing education as an area of expertise the last time we checked. (Ina brief search, we can’t find our previous post on the subject.) This morning’s page-filling editorial suggests that no one should.

Today’s editorial runs under these headlines: “Why Other Countries Teach Better/Why Students Do Better Overseas.”

The editorial runs 1455 words, filling the entire editorial space. Accompanied by a large chart of test scores, it runs from the top to the bottom of the editorial page.

This editorial demonstrates an ironic fact—when it comes to education and public schools, this board is functionally illiterate. Rather plainly, the board is also a member of the new PISA cult.

By now, this cult is dominating our nation's discussions of education. Membership in this cult requires several behaviors:
Rules for the cult of the PISA:
1) Adepts must only consider the PISA when discussing test scores. They must not discuss results from the TIMSS, the PIRLS or the NAEP.

2) Adepts must recite the maximum numbers of sayings by Chairman Andreas, the cult’s Dear Leader.

3) Adepts must never discuss demographics when making international comparisons.

4) Most important, adepts must never discuss our nation’s brutal racial history. Why bother with something like that?
In today’s section-filling editorial, the board complies with these regulations. In the process, they produce a journalistically absurd assessment, in which they put their functional illiteracy on full display.

What is wrong with this editorial? Again, consider those headlines:

“Why Other Countries Teach Better/Why Students Do Better Overseas.”

In its editorial, the board pretends to explain why students do better overseas. But to what extent do such students do better?

Inevitably, they begin their exegesis with miraculous Finland. Yes, they actually wrote this:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (12/18/13): Though it dropped several rankings in last year’s tests, Finland has for years been in the highest global ranks in literacy and mathematical skills. The reason dates to the postwar period, when Finns first began to consider creating comprehensive schools that would provide a quality, high-level education for poor and wealthy alike.
In the highlighted sentence, the board is referring to Finland’s performance on the PISA, a program the editors never name (!) but use as their sole source of data.

The editors never tell their readers that they are cherry-picking their data—that they are disappearing results from the TIMSS and the PIRLS, two major international tests, and from the NAEP, our most reliable domestic testing program.

As Amanda Ripley showed in her ballyhooed book, adepts in the cult of the PISA are required to do this! At any rate:

Having dumped the bulk of the data, the editors tell their readers that Finland “dropped several rankings” in the 2012 PISA, but had been in the highest ranks in math “for years” before that happened.

Really? As we’ve noted a trillion times, American students in Grade 4 and Grade 8 matched miraculous Finland in math on the 2011 TIMSS. As we continue, the facts get even better:

At the Grade 8 level, nine American states took part in the TIMSS as independent entities. Six of the nine outscored Finland in math; Florida matched Finland’s score.

Massachusetts, Minnesota and North Carolina outscored Finland by a lot.

New York Times readers aren’t told such things in today’s editorial. Instead, the board starts explaining why Finland does so much better in math than the United States does!

Needless to say, readers aren’t told about the way white students in the U.S. kicked Finland’s keister on the TIMSS and came close to matching it on the PISA. In principle, this is an instructive comparison because Finland is a middle-class, unicultural nation.

To its credit, Finland never created a despised minority within its population. It didn’t work for centuries to eliminate literacy within that brutalized population, as our benighted ancestors did.

Finland also has very few immigrant kids, although, at long last, the nation has a few percent.

Does Finland do better with kids from its majority culture than we do with ours? On the TIMSS and the PISA, the decision is split. But owing to the rules of the cult, the editors only mention the PISA. And they never dirty their hands talking about the brutal racial history which has created our leading educational dilemma, a painful problem schools in Finland have never addressed or solved.

Ironically, the editors are behaving like people who can’t read, analyze or cipher. Before long, they’re discussing the wonders of Canada and a few of its wonderful provinces:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: Canada also has a more rigorous and selective teacher preparation system than the United States, but the most striking difference between the countries is how they pay for their schools.

American school districts rely far too heavily on property taxes, which means districts in wealthy areas bring in more money than those in poor ones. State tax money to make up the gap usually falls far short of the need in districts where poverty and other challenges are greatest.

Americans tend to see such inequalities as the natural order of things. Canadians do not. In recent decades, for example, three of Canada’s largest and best-performing provinces—Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario—have each addressed the inequity issue by moving to province-level funding formulas...
Everything’s better in Canada. Everything but the math scores!

In 2011, Canada didn’t participate in the TIMSS as a nation, but Ontario and Alberta did. Below, you see the scores from those wonderful provinces, who we’re supposed to be copying:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2011 TIMSS
Massachusetts: 561
Minnesota: 545
North Carolina: 537
Indiana: 522
Colorado: 518
Connecticut: 518
Florida: 513
Ontario: 512
United States: 509
Alberta: 505
People, we’re just saying!

As a general matter, Canada performs better on the PISA, less well on the TIMSS. A journalist would try to explain this phenomenon, which shows up in the scores of quite a few major nations. (The United States and Russia score substantially better on the TIMSS.)

Cult members have a better idea. They simply throw the TIMSS data away! Also, who needs the NAEP?

Several more points should be made about this full-page editorial, which is—let’s be frank—the work of shambling illiterates:

The editors close with a section on Shanghai, an extremely high-performing high-income city in China. Enormous demographic and methodological questions surround Shanghai’s scores on the PISA.

For a recent discussion of these questions, just click this. (Did Shanghai Cheat on PISA, by the Post’s Valerie Strauss.)

The editors ignore all that! Instead, they recite the wise sayings of Chairman Andreas, telling readers, with clear-eyed certainty, that all questions have been resolved.

So far, we’ve reviewed the way the editors sift the data about international scores. As shambling adepts, they simply throw away all data which don’t come from the PISA.

As we close, a few words should be said about the simple-minded ways they sift alleged solutions to the problem they’ve cherry-picked. In these matters, they blindly recite a few pseudo-liberal points.

How does Finland work its miracles? As they continue their exegesis, the editors tell us this:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: …Finland has for years been in the highest global ranks in literacy and mathematical skills. The reason dates to the postwar period, when Finns first began to consider creating comprehensive schools that would provide a quality, high-level education for poor and wealthy alike. The reason dates to the postwar period, when Finns first began to consider creating comprehensive schools that would provide a quality, high-level education for poor and wealthy alike. These schools stand out in several ways, providing daily hot meals; health and dental services; psychological counseling; and an array of services for families and children in need...
The editors offer more explanations, explaining how Finland came within one-half of a standard deviation of matching Massachusetts in math.

The highlighted point about “daily hot meals” is a pet peeve for us. American liberals like to talk about children who go to school hungry every day. In this way, these people tell you that they have never spent a minute trying to understand the problems faced by low-income children in our American schools.

What happens to American kids who go to school hungry? As In Finland, these children get served daily hot meals—and yes, billions get served! We’re often amazed, and annoyed, by how hard it is to track down the data. We’ll let The New America Foundation explain:
NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION (7/1/13): The National School Lunch Program supports student nutrition in over 101,000 schools and residential facilities. It provides free and reduced priced meals to low-income children before school, during school, after school, and over the summer. In fiscal year 2012, federal school nutrition programs underwrote more than five billion lunches served to over 31 million students. Total funding for all nutrition programs sums to more than $16 billion in both cash and commodity payments.
“Of the five billion meals provided to 31 million students during the 2011-12 school year, 59 percent were free of charge,” the NAF goes on to say, apparently referring to lunches alone.

How many American children get free breakfast at school? If memory serves, we have seen figures ranging from ten to fourteen million kids, with as many as 31 million getting free or reduced price lunch.

You can always tell a pseudo-liberal by the way he or she leaps to talk about kids “coming to school hungry” without going on to explain what happens next. Predictably, the editorial board is amazed at the way Finland’s schools serve those daily meals.

The second matter upsetting the board concerns per pupil spending. Like poverty and hunger, this is a genuine issue:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: The Ontario system has more than two million public school students—more than in 45 American states and the District of Columbia. But the contrast to the American system could not be more clear. Ontario, for example, strives to eliminate or at least minimize the funding inequality that would otherwise exist between poor and wealthy districts. In most American states, however, the wealthiest, highest-spending districts spend about twice as much per pupil as the lowest-spending districts, according to a federal advisory commission report. In some states, including California, the ratio is more than three to one.
America’s sprawling arrangement of public schools raises many issues of equitable funding. But if we liberals want to understand the full sweep of our educational challenges, we have to move past the twin pleasures of funding disparities and hungry children.

In this passage, the editors praise Ontario for its attempts to equalize funding. We’ll assume that praise is warranted.

That said, as they complain about spending disparities between and within the states, the editors skip a striking fact—one of the highest spending “states” is the District of Columbia, which spent the most per pupil among the fifty-one “states” in 2010.

Alas! Despite a very high level of spending, the D.C. schools are quite low-scoring, even when compared to other urban systems. Translation:

Funding disparity is an actual issue. But people who care about low-income students won’t imagine that low test scores spring full-blown from low per pupil spending.

They don’t. Despite our desire to mouth talking-points, then drift away, the world of low-income schools isn’t nearly as simple as that.

This morning, the editorial board of the New York Times put on quite a show. They recited the creeds of a new cult and disappeared the bulk of the data, like Amanda Ripley before them.

Things get no better when film directors start making absurdly inaccurate claims which misstate the basic facts in the other direction.

Within our broken intellectual culture, top-end journalists shamble about, performing like what they are—functional illiterates. It doesn’t help when other ranking figures confuse matters even more.

Today’s editorial disappears the bulk of the relevant data. The piece is the work of functional illiterates—but will anyone tell you but us?

Last night, Our Own Rhodes Scholar continued to clown about Chris Christie and the bridge.

She killed another big bushel of time; she has never discussed public schools. When our (wealthy) Rhodes Scholars behave in such ways, what hope do we have for the world?

Tomorrow, part 3: Who misled M. Night Shyamalan?

38 comments:

  1. After kvetching about anti-intellectualism,

    The anti-anti-intellectual blogger goes

    "Our Own Rhodes Scholar".

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    Replies
    1. Clearly you miss the point.

      Delete
    2. "We liberals..." - b. somerby

      oh brother...

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    3. Maddow wasn't just a Rhodes scholar, her advanced degree is from Oxford University. Somerby uses the phrase derisively because she is not living up to her education. She can and should be expected to know better than to report things the way she is doing. She is being intellectually lazy in her segments, she can be assumed to know that her work isn't meeting standards she herself has met in the past, in her academic training. She is wasting whatever ability earned her those impressive credentials and she is coasting on them while earning a ridiculous amount of money for doing very little of value. That is Somerby's point, as I see it.

      Delete
    4. Oh my God - you don't say that what people do in real life doesn't measure up to the intellectual standards of the best schools in the world?

      Who woulda thunk?

      But thats just an explication of the blogger's swipe at Maddow's stellar credentials. Looks like a straight putdown of higher education to me.

      It is of course kool Aid drinking to point out the money allegedly being made by Maddow. If the blogger cheapens himself constantly by obsessing about that, must his fans do the same?

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    5. Typical, blame the teachers. At the college level, the students share blame when they fail to benefit from their education.

      The blogger obsesses about her dishonesty, not her salary. She is violated strongly held values (especially by teachers) when she imparts misinformation, misleads people through omission, selectively quotes or cherry-picks facts, and otherwise propagandizes instead of informing. He seems obsessed with her becauses she is capable of doing better, should be doing better and yet violates the standards of her profession. For several million dollars couldn't she be more professional? In athletics, a millionaire player loses a contract for non-performance. Why are there no similar standards for millionaire journalists? It is a fair question, in my opinion. You, on the other hand, don't seem to care whether you are informed well, as long as she is cute and entertaining.

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    6. Name one occasion when the blogger has even mentioned the money made by Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter et al.

      I can name dozens when he is foaming at the mouth with rage and envy for the money he thinks O'Donnell, Maddow, Dowd et al. are making.

      You don't need a Rhodes scholarship to figure out whats going on here.

      In school you can achieve high levels of excellence because profit-making is not a requirement. If your work is funded, you are only addressing your peers and not dirt farmers in Indiana. If Maddow doesn't attract viewership and gets advertisers, Maddow wouldn't be on the air anymore. And the great unwashed American public only wants to hear angry white male rage and hatred - its next to impossible for a liberal radio/TV show to be commercially viable.

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    7. The only person on this site who can be characterized as full of rage is the troll whose comments are full of profanity. That person needs to get help, soon.

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  2. I was shocked at how shoddy the NYTimes editorial was, but the series on education in the editorial section was leading to just this.

    Leo

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  3. It seemed to me the editorial was also attacking teachers. It talked about standards for admission to teacher preparation programs and how Finland has incorporated these into its universities. In the comments people talked about how easy being an education major was, how students switch to education when they fail at other majors. The editorial also tried to imply that increasing teacher salaries wouldn't improve the quality of teachers because Finland doesn't pay more than an average salary (although teachers do earn more after 15 years on the job). All of this discussion seems to blame the teachers for not being smart enough to do a good job.

    Finland produces more highly educated college graduates than it has good jobs for. That may be why students are "attracted" to teaching. That is hardly the case in the US, where college grads can and do find jobs in other higher paying occupations. The idea that teachers should be paid by the joy of their student's achievement is ridiculous. Doctors are not paid by the joy of their patient's recovery to health. When teachers are paid commensurate with their years of education and work experience, they will be attracted to teaching, just as math-talented students are now attracted to Wall Street, the science-oriented are attracted to medicine, the language-talented are attracted to law, and those with skills in music or athletics go where the money is. Teaching is a profession. If we want better teachers, we must pay for them. That means treating teachers like the professionals they are, taking their input seriously, and recognizing that they are central to education -- not just scapegoats for poor results in testing programs.

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    1. Terrific comment.

      Thanks.

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    2. This really is the crux of your comment: "treating teachers like the professionals...taking their input seriously, and recognizing that they are central to education "

      When, and IF these things happen, we'll finally get to genuine education reform.

      democracy

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  4. ny times editorial excerpt:

    ...the most striking difference between the countries is how they pay for their schools.American school districts rely far too heavily on property taxes, which means districts in wealthy areas bring in more money than those in poor ones. State tax money to make up the gap usually falls far short of the need in districts where poverty and other challenges are greatest.
    Americans tend to see such inequalities as the natural order of things. Canadians do not."

    >>> somerby says that this is not as big a factor as the times would lead us to believe, thereby working in the interests of the wealthier school districts. yet he doesnt say what the other factors are . . . all the while accusing the ny times of not really caring about the racial education gap.

    classic rovian style propaganda. accuse the other guy of being weak where you yourself are the weakest.

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    1. Somerby says: "America’s sprawling arrangement of public schools raises many issues of equitable funding. But if we liberals want to understand the full sweep of our educational challenges, we have to move past the twin pleasures of funding disparities and hungry children."

      He does not say this is "not as big a factor as the times would lead us to believe." He says it is a big factor but that there are other factors beyond it that are not being addressed. He does say what those factors are -- repeatedly. He returns again and again to the brutal racial history and the disparities emerging from our history of suppressing literacy in inner city kids.

      He says that because liberals prefer to talk about income disparities instead of racial ones, they (and the NY Times) do not care about the racial education gap.

      It does seem misleading that the NY Times would rather attribute the US standing in international tests to poor schooling nationwide rather than acknowledge that lower scores among demographic minorities lower our overall scores. Why is the NY Times so intent on blaming all of US education for poorer performance? Is it afraid it will be considered racist if it points out demographic gaps? Why does it not focus on improvements within Hispanic and African American strata?

      I know you are a troll and that is why you persist in misreading Somerby, but I think it is a valid point to ask why the NY Times ignores disparities in education for US minority groups. It is part of our tendency as a nation to be unable to discuss racial issues.

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    2. nitpicking. somerby doesnt say it word-for-word but he implies that the funding disparity, which the times points out the systemic reason for, is not as big a factor as the times would have it. (thereby supporting those living in the wealthier school districts.)

      and you are the troll, not me, because you support a troll, somerby, a systemic troll, because he misrepresents himself as a liberal when he is, i suspect, a secret conservative.

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    3. Yes, this is why he has so often praised Kozol's "Savage Inequalities" which is about funding disparities.

      There is political conservatism and personal conservatism. Nearly all teachers are personally conservative because we spend our lives transmitting culture to children, socializing them to succeed in society and guiding them toward successful lives. One cannot do that without conserving important values. There is another kind of teacher who inspires young people to disrupt the status quo, pursue creativity (which works at the fringes of normative standards), and break new paths. Only a few teachers are of that kind and they too are relatively conservative (for rebels) because they are working within the system they wish to change, and largely encourage children to do so as well. That is not the same as being politically conservative, which these days means to be living in an alternate reality, anti-science, opposed to tolerance for those with different sexual or religious practices, etc. That is not very consistent with what most teachers believe and hardly what Somerby advocates here on a daily basis.

      You may not be a troll. Maybe you work on Maddow's staff or are an intern for Dowd. Maybe you are just mentally disabled with too much time on your hands and preoccupied with a supposed grievance against Somerby (he called you out once for heckling his stand-up show). It doesn't matter what your motives are, you are clearly just making noise here.

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    4. he is not a teacher. he is an ideologically conservative political blogger who uses either the media in general as a way to bash liberals, or the medias handling of test scores as a way to bash liberals.

      each column should stand for itself. it should not depend on what he said in some previous column or what some book he praised in a previous column said.

      further, he should not have to be interpreted by his supporters as to what he really meant. he should say what he really means. he also should not meander like he does, but instead be concise and to the point if really is confident in what he is saying.

      sheeesh! talk about just making noise here.

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    5. He spent 10 years as a teacher. Further, people who teach are people who carry the belief that they can serve others by imparting information. So, whether writing a blog, doing stand-up, writing, or in a classroom, a person can be involved in service to others by imparting knowledge, understanding, wisdom, guidance, encouragement, etc. Someone can have the soul and motives of a teacher without ever having been in a classroom. Moms, ministers, lots of people do it.

      It is churlish to come to a blog and criticize the writing style of the owner. We are becoming a Twitter culture, where no one will read anything longer than 120 characters. Do you really need sound bites to be happy? So what if writing is repetitive. Have you tried reading War and Peace? It is majorly repetitive and yet people consider it a great work of world literature. Go figure!

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    6. Somerby is a fine, fine teacher which is why I read his every post.

      Delete
    7. Thanks Anonymous for taking apart the goofy argument(s) of a.m. adon.

      Delete
  5. Daily hot meals in Finland are not just for poor children. Everybody is entitled to them and no one is stigmatized or segregated into different dining rooms for being poor, as here. Plus, the fact that the meals are for everyone means that they are apt to be of better quality. That is a significant difference.

    Just saying.

    The Times would rather not discuss economic stigmatization or racial segregation.

    The fact that Finland has free tuition and board at the university level is also ignored. The Times would prefer not to discuss how the Finnish government spends the tax revenue it collects. It would rather focus on individual teachers (who in Finland work in teams, unlike here, where it's sink or swim).



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  6. But, but, the NYT is not really a liberal paper, and no one reads it anyway...

    Above comment brought to you by trolls anonymous.

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    1. Dear me, the vapors.

      You remind me, "cacambo" (and I don't understand how that handle distinguishes from "trolls anonymous") of one of those Repubs who insist on referring to the "Democrat party".

      You'll be hard put to find any self-described leftie -- as opposed to a winger like yourself -- who regards NYT as "liberal" on much of anything but social issues. The paper is a stalwart supporter of U.S. intervention abroad, has a long history of supporting right-wing dictators and military coups, was a booster for the Iraq invasion, openly despises wikileaks and Edward Snowden and is a rare and unreliable proponent of anything like "economic justice". And of course it's never employed a left-winger on its op ed page. The notion among the right that Krugman is a leftist is both hilarious or pathetic, betraying a shocking ignorance about what "left-wing" actually means.

      As for influence -- you're quite right. NYT has little or no effect on public policy, certainly much less than Fox. And it has no influence with the Democratic party.

      So, on *both* counts you're right, despite yourself: NYT is not really a liberal paper, and apart from occasional unavoidable reporting of actual news which puts the State in a unflattering light, it has little or no effect on public policy.

      This comment brought to courtesy of trolls anonymous.

      Delete
    2. Catchy handle there, anonymous. Did you come up with that yourself? You've just managed to prove my point! (Or was this a clever parody post? Hard to tell) The trolls here (and I'm not necessarily accusing you of being one) frequently refuse to engage with the content of Somerby's posts (content which is by no means above criticism) preferring to participate in a massive circle jerk about how he is a hypocrite, or a closet republican (see a. m. adon below) or a repetitive curmudgeon, or a self-hating Irish, or that he is writing about the wrong things, or that the people and publications he criticizes are not worth critiquing (see my post above) or whateeeever... It. Is. Just. Plain. Tedious. Make a well supported argument or go home.

      Delete
  7. nitpicking. somerby doesnt say it word-for-word but he implies that the funding disparity, which the times points out the systemic reason for, is not as big a factor as the times would have it. (thereby supporting those living in the wealthier school districts.)

    and you are the troll, not me, because you support a troll, somerby, a systemic troll, because he misrepresents himself as a liberal when he is, i suspect, a secret conservative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Repetition doesn't improve your comment.

      Delete
    2. The repetition just makes it all the more inane, doesn't it?

      Delete
  8. At MIT there is a hierarchy among students based on their majors. Physics is at the top, followed by other sciences, then social sciences, then humanities. This doesn't reflect the talent or intellectual ability of the students (because they all met MIT's rigorous admission standards) but rather the values among students. These stories about how education is the major poor students flock to reflect that kind of status hierarchy among students. For admission to graduate training in education, a person must not only have academic skills but also personal qualities that would make a person well-suited to work with children. There are quite a few engineering, science, math, economics, and political science majors who might flunk that entrance criterion. Because it isn't on their radar as a desirable trait, they are not even aware they lack important qualifications for the field. When education schools admit candidates, they don't only screen for academics but also for extracurriculars and personality. When gpa/test scores are not the only criterion for admission, the inclusion of other qualities will weaken the correlation between grades/scores and admission, making it seem like less qualified candidates are being admitted. Is it true? I'm not sure it has been studied explicitly -- please post a source if you know of one.

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  9. "Physics is at the top, followed by other sciences, then social sciences, then humanities." This reflects the value hierarchy of the 1950s. Now biology would be at the top.

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    Replies
    1. This isn't about anything objective -- it is about how the students regard each other. Biology won't be at the top because physics requires more math and abstract thought, thus is viewed as harder -- more rigorous and more of a science, and thus more prestigious intellectually speaking. Chemistry, biology and other fields are seen as derived from physics. It has nothing to do with what fields are providing more jobs, making more advances, etc. Students at places like Harvard and MIT are often insecure about their own standing at a place where everyone is outstanding, so the rankings emerge from that insecurity (the need to feel better than someone else), not any reality of the world off campus. Similarly, the public attitude toward teachers is not grounded in reality but in the subjectivities of people's views about their past teachers, authority figures, and their own abilities.

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  10. So the NYT editorial is wrong. How does a major editorial effort aimed
    at improving educational outcomes qualify as "anti-intellectual'? Pointy headed liberals want to know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the very same way that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are both major pieces of education legislation that are allegedly "aimed at improving educational outcomes." Both CITE the term research-based many, many times. But both have little or no research base to support their embedded policies, like more testing, merit pay for teachers based on students test scores, and more charter schools.

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  11. I'd like Bob to explain that too, but I suppose it may be because the editorial board is happy to expound on a subject without having any education experts on the board. It is anti-intellectualism to believe that one does not need expertise to offer opinions, that good old common sense is sufficient, no real knowledge about a subject required. If I were to guess, that would be it, given that he talks about the composition of the editorial board immediately after describing the editorial as anti-intellectual. Their mistakes re: the various tests support that description.

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  12. Physics had a lot of prestige because of the atomic bomb. Biology has a lot of prestige because of genetic engineering. In the nineteenth century engineering was very prestigious. Sic transit gloria mundi.

    The new NYT article summing up the opinions of readers is better. -E

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