Diane Ravitch reminds us about the origins of “the best and the brightest” — it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Diane Ravitch's blog

A reader remembers that when David Halberstam used the phrase “the best and the brightest,” it was not praise. It was an ironic reference to the seemingly brilliant Harvard graduates at the State Department, the National Security Council, and the think tanks who got us into the war in Vietnam.

You often hear education reformers, including President Obama, talk about how we must have the “Best and Brightest” from the most elite schools enter the teaching workforce to improve education.

I always want to say to say to them, the phrase “Best and Brightest” doesn’t actually mean what you think it means.

When David Halberstam used the phrase “Best and Brightest” for his book on the Vietnam War, he used it ironically to show how these so-called geniuses from the so-called elite colleges took the nation down the path of an insane policy that cost many lives.  Even when it…

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