Praise, not scorn
Sent to the Washington Post, Dec. 13
Education Secretary Duncan thinks that Schools of Education do a "mediocre job" and need strict accountability ("Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment," Dec. 12).
American Schools of Education deserve praise, not scorn. If international test scores are the criteria for judging performance, American children do very well, as long as the effect of poverty is taken into consideration. There is very good evidence that poverty must be considered.
American schools where less than 25 percent of the students are poor outscore nearly all other countries in math and science. American children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. Poverty means hunger, poor diet, toxins in the environment, and a lack of reading material. All of these seriously affect academic performance. The US has the highest level of childhood poverty of all industrialized countries, 25%, compared to Denmark's 2%.
Poverty is beyond the control of Schools of Education. Low achievement is the fault of a society that allows so many children to live in poverty.
Also, if we accept Secretary Duncan's logic, we should hold schools of business accountable for the current economic crisis.
Berliner, David C. (2009). Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential
Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership 55(4): 18-22.
Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment