Friday, May 04, 2007

Refuting the Big Lie of the "Failing" Public Schools

The buffoons who make education policy in this country at the federal level (and the equally buffoonish commentators on education) never tire of touting standardized test scores as "proof" of the failure of American public schools. As a teacher, I naturally take umbrage at these accusations of incompetence. So I always enjoy seeing these people made to look foolish in articles like this by Gerald Bracey. Key finding:

By comparing the results of foreign students and American students on tests administered in both nations, and then examining the American students' scores on the U.S. NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress], it is possible to reliably estimate how well foreign students would perform on the NAEP.

And it turns out that only one-third of those high-flying Swedish kids would be considered proficient readers; the NAEP figure for U.S. fourth-graders was 29 percent. The great majority of the remaining countries would have fewer proficient students than the United States. Using the NAEP standard, no country comes close to having a majority of proficient readers.

Under the NAEP standard, Singapore is the only nation in the world to have a majority of its students be proficient in science, and that by a scant 1 percent. Only a handful of countries would have a majority of students proficient in mathematics.
And yet the NAEP results are constantly used to flog the public schools and scare Americans into thinking that education is in a state of collapse in this country. The reasons this is done are often quite simple: opponents of the very idea of public schools want to take over the education system. These are the John Stossels of the world, driven by ideological motives, who constantly lie about the public schools in order to destroy them. Articles like Bracey's are a refreshing antidote to such lies. Read the whole thing, as they say in blogdom, and see if you don't agree.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I quite agree. And I am also tired of hearing how parochial educators do so much better a job than public school teachers for lots less money. they may be more dedicated (or just a little nutz). But they don't have special ed classes (which bring scores down in public schools), and they don't put up with crap from kids. If the kids can't behave, they boot 'em -- right into the public schools where they disrupt the educational process.

Another problem is 'helicopter' parents who demand so much time teachers can't teach.