Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Great Education Myth

Lots going on in education news these days, it seems. First, we are crucifying this poor woman for trying to sneak her kid into a better school. It’s a familiar story — we did something similar to a woman here in Providence recently, as was covered in the long-ago early days of Kmareka. Apparently, this is one of those things we do in our society when we are feeling really conflicted about who “deserves” a good education and who doesn’t.

The conflicts in how we feel about education reform also extend to us liberals. Right now I see we have some liberals in Rhode Island who are hot-and-heavy for education reform that will get us our share of the Race to the Top dollars from the federal government. I took some time to research about the subject and came up with this fascinating expose of how billionaire corporate foundations are driving these reforms and the accompanying conflicts in communities all over our nation. Ours here in Rhode Island is currently focused on whether to make the NECAPS a requirement of high school graduation.

While I know our schools need work work including massive investment in infrastructure, technology, and more teachers to reduce class size, I agree with David Sirota that the real problem we face as a society is dwindling jobs, not an uneducated workforce. Perhaps rather than changing the requirements for diplomas, what we really need to do is change the requirements for companies who outsource their jobs, as is currently proposed in legislation sponsored by our own Sheldon Whitehouse. The real issue is now and will continue to be employment. Many corporations in Rhode Island are moving their white-collar jobs overseas. This has to stop if we are going to have jobs here that pay a decent wage. If there are no jobs here, it’s going to be irrelevant whether you passed the NECAPS or not.


3 thoughts on “Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Great Education Myth

  1. You are 100% right about outsourcing.
    It’s a cold day in Hell when I agree with sheldon,but you know the saying about a stopped clock….
    Putting that aside,we can’t seriously continue graduating illiterates.
    Unfortunately,many students come into the US every year qnd not only haven’t been learning anything in third world schools,but haven’t been in school at all.
    Three of my four grandarents never attended school,yet all were fluent and literate in multiple languages.How’s that happen?Different motivational factors at home-home schooling can be very effective.
    If someone in the family learned to read,they taught someone else-sometimes it was a rabbi who taught them.(In my family,anyway).Point being they learned it somhow.
    I have a friend from Singapore-she had to wait to bring her daughter over here legally-when the kid got here(NYC in this case)she was disappointed because the schools in our biggest city,from which barry and I received sucgh good educations,were two or three years behind Singapore.
    I was in that country in 1969 and it was on the right track back then.
    I have to admit i don’t know much about the program you are so suspicious of,but this Governor has a hatred for charter schools,which I suspect is because Bob Walsh and George Nee are using him as their marionette.Feel free to flame me.

  2. I have never seen anyone produce hard data to prove this point. As such, I have to conclude there is none. The data I’ve seen–and I’ve been looking–does not corroborate this myth.

    If you look at NAEP scores, there is no deterioration of quality.

    One thing has changed is that the consequences have gotten worse. Time was, you could raise a family pumping gas. It was tough, but doable.


    And kids who grow up in a multilingual environment will learn multiple languages. It just happens. Not much to do with motivation, or whatever. Kids under the age of about 6 can simply absorb a number of languages. Back in the early part of the 20th Century, when neighborhoods were more mosaic than ghetto, it was common for kids to be versed in several. At one point in his life, my dad knew three or four. Most of them eventually atrophied from disuse.

    1. The people I’m talking about didn’t get exposed to English until they came here and there was no night school.
      The description of how languages were picked up fast by youger children is pretty accurate from what I have seen.
      My wife was born here,but coming from a home where they always spoke Spanish,she just got dumped into an English speaking school at age 5 and did fine.She has a NY accent,but that’s about it.
      Do you really believe the charter schools are so bad?Do your children attend public schools?
      Mine did.
      What data to prove what exactly are you talking about?
      I kind of lost your direction here.

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