Familiar bold words without meaning: Last week, we reviewed several discussions of the Atlanta public school cheating scandal.
We meant to touch on this column by Gene Robinson. Let’s do so today.
We will start with an assumption. We will assume that Robinson doesn’t really know a whole lot about the way the public schools work. He probably doesn’t know a whole lot about standardized testing.
There’s no reason why he should. No one’s an expert on every issue. And the liberal world to which he belongs devotes little time to these topics.
Robinson wrote about the Atlanta mess all the same.
To us, Robinson seems like a good, decent person, if a bit of a scripted team player. That said, we think the highlighted claim is appalling, although it’s a very familiar statement among fully standardized liberals:
ROBINSON (4/1/13): Standardized achievement tests are a vital tool, but treating test scores the way a corporation might treat sales targets is wrong. Students are not widgets. I totally reject the idea that students from underprivileged neighborhoods cannot learn. Of course they can. But how does it help these students to have their performance on a one-size-fits-all standardized test determine their teachers’ compensation and job security? The clear incentive is for the teacher to focus on test scores rather than actual teaching.Playing the hero, Robinson “totally rejects the idea that students from underprivileged neighborhoods cannot learn.”
To state the obvious, no one has ever made such a claim. Why then does he reject it?
Has anybody ever said that “students from underprivileged neighborhoods cannot learn?” Almost surely, the answer is no. In truth, Robinson’s statement is what a liberal says when he doesn’t know squat about low-income schools and still wants to pose as a hero.
No one has ever said that low-income children “can’t learn.” That has never been the question at any point in any part of any public school debate.
When you see liberals making that statement, you ought to feel a bit revulsed. They don’t have anything real to say—and they’re trying to get over.
Robinson totally rejects the idea that students from underprivileged neighborhoods “can’t learn!” We liberals say that all the time.
In our view, it’s a clueless, who-gives-a-damn statement. It gives the impression that something's been said.
That impression is flagrantly false.