Reading this new education manifesto that’s being released today makes me seriously crave a Tab and some Bee Gees. I’m all for many of the proposals it champions, better access to health care and other social services, better access to pre-kindergarten education for low-income kids, using time more effectively….those are all vitally important.
But, the conspicuous soft-pedaling of a focus on results and the explicit rejection that perhaps schools are even a substantial part of the educational problem is unsettling. It’s as though the debates and progress of the last 25 years didn’t happen at all.
Update: In her delightfully slippery way Eduwonkette writes:
eduwonk suggests that the acknowledgment that schools can’t do it alone is just another tired opinion…
Of course, I didn’t suggest that and have written elsewhere that other supports are necessary just that even all else equal we can still do a lot better now. What I did suggest is that the lack of emphasis on school accountability is an important signal here. Why not forthrightly acknowledge that lousy schools in many communities are a big part of the problem? We do know that a lot of the “gap” exists before kids come to school, but we also know that schools then exacerbate it because of a host of policies. Some forthright attention to that would have made this document a better jumping off point for a next generation of policies and advocacy. The conspicuous absence of such an emphasis jumped out at me when I first saw this thing floating around. And I doubt it was an oversight in the drafting…
Update II: More from the great Sara Mead.
Update III: Would it be too cynical to ask now about where the full-page newspaper ads were when we actually had a chance to expand access to health care for children?
Update IV: Barone is on the case, too:
It’s hard to take issue with the new initiative launched today by EPI and others to comprehensively address those factors that improve the quality of education. Health care. Child care. Preschool. It’s like mom and apple pie, especially for a bleeding heart liberal like me.
But since I wholeheartedly support most of what they’re saying (and it’s nice to see Rothstein back home at EPI rather than at the Cato Institute or cozying up to Charles Murray), why does something about it not smell or feel right?
A lot more, worth reading.