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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Media's Misguided "Miracle" Meme

Paul Tough has built a career on "no excuses" approaches to teaching "other people's children" in the charter school racket, most recently touting the importance of "grit" (see "Paul Tough Is Way Off-Base. And Stop Saying 'Grit'" by Katie Osgood to understand why Tough is misguided).

More recently, David Kirp has offered a call to re-invest in public education, not charter schools, by triggering the same "no excuses" argument embedded in a favorite meme among journalists, the "miracle" school!

Tough and Kirp follow in the footsteps of David Brooks, who literally christened the Harlem Children's Zone the "Harlem Miracle."

While political leaders, the media, and the public remain enamored with "miracle" memes, several educators and bloggers have now offered a counter-narrative specifically to Kirp's piece. Consider the following:

"School Turnarounds Are Predictably Rare," Walt Gardner

"Sorry, Kirp’s Fix Another Flawed Discourse on Ed Reform," P. L. Thomas

"Gary Rubinstein on the Union City Story," Diane Ravitch

Praise schools, teachers, and students, yes, but let's stop claiming "miracle," since they almost always prove not to be as advertised, and let's not normalize exceptionality because that claim can only entrench perpetual appearances of failure.

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