something about everything

The Unspeakable Truth about Education

If you want to know why compulsory testing in our schools is doing nothing to improve the academic performance of our kids, all you have to do is hop on the Lansdale/Doylestown train line from Center City in Philadelphia out to the “cocoons” where the wealthy live.

There I was boarding at the Suburban Station in Center City, the power base of one of America’s largest cities.

Before I could get comfortable, I was at the Temple University stop, that prestigious catholic school surrounded by a sea of poverty and urban decay.  Then after I left the city and headed on to middle America for a time, I encountered the opulence of America.  I’d never heard of the Gwynedd Valley before my train ride.

Since I’ve worked in education for a long time, I see the world in terms of education. The new “normal” is that if you can get kids to achieve proficiency on tests, nothing else matters…even the conditions under which they live.

So the kids who live here:

Or here:

Are supposed to do as well as the kids who live here:

Or here:

It’s the colossal absurdity of One Size Fits All.  It works for clothes, but not for society. 

This is Philadelphia, but you don’t have to come here: Take a train from Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, New York.  Wherever you live, you’ll see the same scenes – a microcosm of America in less than an hour.

You can test kids until they can’t breathe anymore; but it won’t change the underlying truth: How they live affects how they learn. Oh yes. In isolated cases, where rigorous educational practices and discipline occur there have been gains and even spectacular results; but take a train ride from your favorite city and see the magnitude of the problems we face as a society.

But no one talks about it any more…not even liberals during a presidential election. It’s the unspeakable truth about education.

Maybe we can “test” poverty out of existence?


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