Joe Nocera of the New York Times has a column today that every education advocate should read.
It makes the point that is almost always missing from education debates, that addressing the problems caused by poverty and a student’s life at home are as important as any reform.
And he has this to say of many of the reformers.
To admit the importance of a student’s background, they fear, is to give ammo to the enemy — which to them are their social-scientist critics and the teachers’ unions. But that shouldn’t be the case. Making schools better is always a goal worth striving for, whether it means improving pedagogy itself or being able to fire bad teachers more easily. Without question, school reform has already achieved some real, though moderate, progress.
What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that school reform won’t fix everything. Though some poor students will succeed, others will fail. Demonizing teachers for the failures of poor students, and pretending that reforming the schools is all that is needed, as the reformers tend to do, is both misguided and counterproductive.