We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Because of the way "achievement gaps" are measured — using scores on standardized reading and math tests — any effort to "close the achievement gap" must necessarily focus on instruction in reading and math. Hence many schools, particularly those at risk of getting failing grades under NCLB, have fixated on reading and math exclusively; other subjects — art and music, foreign language, history, even science — have been set aside to make more time and resources available for remedial instruction. The New York Times has reported that, in Sacramento, California, poorly performing students are permitted to enroll only in math, reading, and gym, in a mad dash to help close the achievement gap. The Wall Street Journal has reported that, facing budget pressures and a relentless press to drive up reading and math scores among the least proficient students, school districts nationwide are axing foreign-language instruction. Indeed, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics, between 1997 and 2008, the share of U.S. elementary schools offering foreign-language classes fell by roughly one-fifth.
There will always be achievement gaps until 1+1=2 is the math test and "See Spot run" is the literature exam. Humans are far too variable in interests, talents, abilities, self-discipline, and motivation for it to ever be otherwise.
As somebody recently commented, "Why not aim for equality in violin, film-making, dress-design, tomato-growing, or basketball?"
And yet, if you can't read, write, and figure you are going to be at a great disadvantage and unlikely to benefit from foreign language instruction, etc. The article seems to argue that the educational failings are due to the lack of ability in the students, whereas I tend to regard it as due to poor schools, bad texts, and inferior instruction. Not everyone is going to be the next Gauss, but I think the general level of achievement can be higher than it is. Indeed, I think people were better educated in the lower grades 70 years ago than they are now. Certainly some of the texts were better.
If someone does show promise as the next Gauss, then they should attend schools that can deal with genius. But as Feynman said regarding his own teaching, the best students did well, and probably would have anyway, but the middle tier students suffered and he could have done better by them.
Not everyone is going to be the next Gauss, but I think the general level of achievement can be higher than it is.
That's true and not everyone is going to make a good plumber, electrician or carpenter. My son-in-law is one hell of an orthopedic surgeon but I don't ever let him loose around my wood shop. :>)
The simple truth is this - we've gotten so far away from "education" I'm not sure we'll ever be able to recover. I just wish we could get back to readin' writin' and 'rithmetic and let everything else take care of itself.
No, it's the students. But the news is still good. Conservatives like to grouse about the schools - hell, everyone likes to grouse about the schools - but American schools are the best in the world. Asian-American students outscore the students in their home countries, even neighborhoods (ok, Shanghai is a tie, but it's a magnet in China): American white students outscore all Europeans (tied with Finns, see below); Hispanic American students outscore every Latin American country by a wide margin; Most African and Caribbean nations don't have testing, but African-Americans wildly - wildly - outscore those that do.
It's heritable traits. I don't think it will last forever.
America is attempting an ethnic and racial mix that is unprecedented in history. A few other countries play in our league for diversity, but not many, and we lead that league by a lot. That we are over-aware of the shortcomings in getting along is irrelevant to the base fact that we are accomplishing what other nations will not even try in side-by-side living and education.
Nope. Sorry. Oft said, not true. Test familiarity is a real, but minor factor. g-factor is real, and it is the driving force here. I recommend Jensen, Charles Murray, Steve Sailer...
You can boost the school's scores a bit with (legal) tricks, such as putting the students in rooms with teachers they like and want to impress more. This doesn't raise the top grades, but it eliminates many of the kids just blowing off the tests and bringing down the average. This is what the Finns do, BTW.
Politicians have no incentive to improve American education for two reasons: The teachers' unions support them. A dumb electorate is easily swayed with magic words and the promise of "free" shiny coins.