Duncan breaks a taboo: Good lord! After all these many years, someone has published an accurate basic account of American public school test scores.
The person in question is Arne Duncan, Obama's education secretary. His op-ed column in today's Washington Post starts as shown below.
How many times have we presented similar information down through these many long years? Hard-copy headline included:
DUNCAN (4/2/18): Don't believe the education naysayersDuncan starts by saying why he thinks test scores have risen. For today, ignore that part of this passage.
Lately, a lot of people in Washington are saying that education reform hasn’t worked very well. Don’t believe it.
Since 1971, fourth-grade reading and math scores are up 13 points and 25 points, respectively. Eighth-grade reading and math scores are up eight points and 19 points, respectively. Every 10 points equates to about a year of learning, and much of the gains have been driven by students of color.
It should be noted that the student population is relatively poorer and considerably more diverse than in 1971. So, while today’s kids bring more learning challenges, they perform as much as 2½ grades higher than their counterparts from half a century ago.
Instead, let's marvel at the information Duncan conveys. Quite literally, we don't think we've ever seen this basic information in a major American newspaper:
Basic information conveyed by Arne Duncan:We've been offering versions of those facts for well over a decade. In some ways, Duncan is substantially understating the actual size of the score gains. We've presented this basic information again and again and again.
Since 1971, fourth-graders are scoring 25 points higher in math (on the Naep).
Since 1971, eighth-graders are scoring 19 points higher in math.
On the scale in question, ten points is generally taken to represent roughly one academic year.
On that basis, American kids are scoring roughly two years ahead of their predecessors in math.
This is extremely basic, bottom-line information. Until today, we don't think we've ever seem this basic information in an American newspaper. In these propaganda-driven times, you simply haven't been allowed to see these basic facts.
In the days to come, we'll be discussing various parts of Duncan's column. For today, consider the most astounding part of today's event:
Duncan conveyed extremely basic information in those first few paragraphs. Until today, American citizens have never been permitted access to that information.
As far as we know, you've never seen that information in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Instead, you've been told, again and again, that "nothing is working in our public schools," perhaps because of our ratty public school teachers with their fiendish unions.
The withholding of this information has been a journalistic scandal of astounding proportions. And make no mistake—after we consider the conduct of the Times and the Post, the scandal only gets worse:
Rachel Maddow has never said a word about any of this. Neither has Chris Hayes; neither has Lawrence. Dearest darlings, use your heads! Within the structure of corporate "cable news," such things simply aren't done!
Chomsky called it "manufactured consent." We call it propaganda, but also "idiocracy." That very basic information has been withheld from public view down through all these years. It's been airbrushed out of the picture, as Stalin might have done.
That fundamental information has been withheld from public view. You'll probably never see it again, so we suggest you click to the Washington Post and, if we might borrow from Janis Joplin, get it while you can.
Coming all week: Additional aspects of this column by Duncan