Education and the two Americas
Besides an uncharacteristic sloppy sentence ("...Latinos, who will account for one in five Americans by 2030, seem to be being assimilated just fine"), the Economist gets some other things wrong, too. Mainly, they point out growing disparities in wealth between the richest and the poorest, but fail to point to President Bush's disgraceful tax policies which only reinforce and widen the gap.
It's too easy to blame public schools for all of society's ills (e.g., growing economic disparities). It's easy, but it's not fair or honest.
That being said, their conclusion is an interesting one-- and, I think at least partially, accurate:
...[A] political solution of sorts is going begging. Republicans should be willing to spend more cash on schools in poor areas (including on teachers'
salaries) in exchange for the Democrats accepting structural reform.
They're right on with that on both counts. But they suggest that the kinds of structural reform that Democrats should endorse includes more testing and vouchers. I, of course, disagree.
Education reform has to be more than measurement. As I've said many times here in varying ways, you don't get taller by measuring yourself. We've got to focus on instructional improvements and structural reforms like lower class sizes, increased personalization of instruction, student internships, more arts and writing programs, greater use of technology, etc.
Notice all of those things I mentioned are ubiquitous in the elite private and public schools in America. If we are serious about providing opportunity for all students, they should be ubiquitous in economically disadvantaged areas, too.