"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, August 15, 2008

Richard Rothstein--Patient Education Policy Mythbuster

A nice feature here by Dennis Myers at NewsReview.com (ht to Monty Neill):
Richard Rothstein spent three years as education columnist for the New York Times, giving a popular audience an unaccustomed look at the work of a scholar in sharp, to-the-point essays that challenged conventional wisdom and corrected public policy assumptions. Reading them and his current work as an associate at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., one gets the impression of a very patient man. Although he must deal constantly with public policy myths—things we all know to be “true” but are not—he keeps plugging away trying to dispel them."All I can do is keep on telling the truth as I see it, and others have to do the same,” Rothstein says. “In the long run, I have to hope the truth wins out.”

The number of myths on which so many public policies are built raise serious questions about whether those policies have any hope of succeeding. In education, there are a number of myths that have been repeated so incessantly by press and politicians that they have become “true” in the public’s mind. Samples:
• Business uses performance pay, so schools should do the same

• Schools are violent

• Parents and students are fleeing public for private schools

• Schools should use the kind of numerical goals that business uses

• Charter schools outperform public schools

In fact, business generally avoids performance pay, schools are the safest places children frequent, private school enrollment is declining, business recommends against numerical goals, and public schools generally perform better than charter schools. . . .


  1. Great teaser story. I couldn't get the link to work, "unknown file type."

    Hope to find out more.

  2. I put it up at my blog! Great stuff!