Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

On Rubrics and Broken Windows

Bruce Brasington

Bruce Brasington discusses the effects of the AP European History examination.

Video: Education and the Federal Government

David Randall

NAS Director of Communications David Randall presents steps the Federal government should take to guarantee individual liberty on college campuses. 

Spinning Wheels

NAS

Robert Maranto writes about how education reformers can work effectively.

Modern versus Western Thought: Adolescence over Adulthood

William H. Young

William Young examines the development of the "youth culture" which first emerged among 1950's high school students.

Education School Follies

David Randall

NAS Board Member Sandra Stotsky anatomizes education school follies.

Time and Beauty: Commencement Address at Veritas Academy

Peter Wood

Last week, NAS president Peter Wood spoke to students of Veritas Preparatory Academy as they move into America's universities. 

Peter Wood: "The Common Core Is Dead"

Peter Wood

Do Common Core State Standards make sense to you? How do they affect you and your children? NAS President Peter Wood gets to the core of the matter. 

Gates Gag for Common Core

David Randall

Common Core proponents don’t want independent criticism or public review.

Teaching Particulars: A Review

David Randall

David Randall reviews Helaine Smith's argument for close reading in Teaching Particulars, and considers its implications for higher education.

From Common Core to Common Corpse

David Randall

Student revolt delays the imposition of Common Core in New York State--perhaps forever.

Massachusetts Aligns Further With The Common Core

NAS

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has voted in favor of a Common-Core aligned standardized test.

Peter Wood Interviewed on Common Core

NAS

NAS President Peter Wood is interviewed at CNSNews.com on the dangers the Common Core poses to American education.

Academic Social Science and America

William H. Young

William Young sums up his series on the impact of academic social science on American society, culture, and education.

Outlaw Literacy

Peter Wood

Detroit's schools barely produce more educationally proficient students than they do juvenile delinquents.

Announcement: Georgia Association of Scholars Event

NAS

The Georgia Association of Scholars is hosting an event with Mary Grabar, Ph.D., on November 17th. 

The Boston Globe Hosts A Debate on Whether to Leave the Common Core

David Randall

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky makes the case that Massachusetts should leave the Common Core.

On the Outside Looking In

Marc S. Anderson

Marc S. Anderson writes about the political skew in an AP U.S. History teacher-training seminar.

C-SPAN Airs Launch of Drilling Through The Core

NAS

Panel discussion marks the publication of Drilling Through The Core.

Academic Social Science and Inequality

William H. Young

William Young examines the preoccupation of American social science with the redress of inequality and its impact on education. 

PARCC Results Mean Nothing

Sandra Stotsky

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky explains how Common Core-based tests fail to produce intelligible results.

How Massachusetts Promoted Achievement Before Common Core & PARCC

Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky comments on Massachusetts K-12 standardized testing reports. 

APUSH Teachers Speak

Ashley Thorne

High school AP U.S. history teachers are coming forward to share their dissatisfaction with the current version of the College Board’s APUSH framework.

Board Member Warns of "No Child Left Behind" Civic Procedure Violation

NAS

Dr. Sandra Stotsky calls attention to the lack of parent voices in "No Child Left Behind" re-authorization.

Scared Green: Sustainability Lies We Tell Our Children

Peter Wood

Environmental messaging targeting children sets the stage for the ubiquity of "sustainability" ideology in colleges and universities. 

Proposed Education Act Would Shortchange Students

Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky argues that the new version of No Child Left Behind will leave low-income students behind because it lacks an important requirement for teachers' competence in their subjects.

Better Alternatives to the Common Core Are Out There

NAS

Sandra Stotsky responds to the claim that the Common Core is impossible to replace.

Why Conservatives are Up in Arms About the College Board's AP History Course

Peter Wood

"We are told that the course is the work of scholars whose only agenda was to create a good course. This doesn’t ring true."

Pushing American History as a Long Tale of Oppression

Peter Wood

The new APUSH is leaving out important figures in U.S. History and focusing instead on a history of the United States as an oppressor. 

Saving Civilization, K-5 Edition: An Address at Great Hearts Academy

Peter Wood

Peter Wood addresses elementary school teachers on the grammar school as the "engine of civilization" at Great Hearts Academy in Phoeniz, Arizona.

Indiana Teachers Union Opposing Sensible Reform

Jason Fertig

The Indiana State Teachers Association is opposing a proposal to grant teaching licenses to college graduates with good grades and work experience.

Prager U: War on Boys

Jason Fertig

Many boys don't need Ritalin. They need recess. 

Fault Lines: The Common Core in California

Peter Wood

In an exchange with a Common Core defender, Peter Wood investigates K-12 standards in California. 

Common Complaints

Peter Wood

Dr. Wood replies to Sol Stern and discusses the ways in which the Common Core will harm students and lower standards.

Debunking Common Core Myths

Sandra Stotsky

Common Core expert Sandra Stotsky offers facts about the Common Core to set the record straight. 

Carving Out the Core: A Former Homeschooler’s Perspective on the CCSS

Marilee Turscak

How will the inclusion of Core material in standardized tests affect the nation's homeschool population? 

Public Virtue in a Republic: The Starting Point for a Common Core

George Seaver

George Seaver writes that we must practice a common teaching of public virtue if we are to sustain our republic.

Common Core Doesn't Add Up to STEM Success

Sandra Stotsky

The Common Core State Standards won't prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, writes NAS board member Sandra Stotsky 

Catholic Scholars Take Stand Opposing the Common Core

NAS

A group of 132 Catholic professors have urged bishops in the United States to reject the Common Core K-12 State Standards for Catholic schools in their dioceses.

Common Core State Standards: Above and Beyond

William H. Young

William Young concludes his series on CCSS by emphasizing why K-12 education is in need of a complete overhaul.

Common Core State Standards: Teacher Training and Pedagogy

William H. Young

William Young describes the measures necessary to prepare new teachers for CCSS.

Common Core State Standards: Schools of Education

William H. Young

William Young examines the serious inadequacy of education schools in preparing teachers for the K-12 classroom.

Common Core State Standards: Student Assessments

William H. Young

Willliam Young examines methods of assessing student achievement under CCSS.

Common Core State Standards: Instructional Materials

William H. Young

William Young discusses the type of instructional materials necessary to improve K-12 educational outcomes.

Common Core State Standards: The Achievement Gap

William H. Young

William Young explains why a uniformly rigorous core curriculum will produce the best results for all students, irrespective of their social backgrounds.

Common Core State Standards: Cogs for the Economic Machine

William H. Young

William Young examines the ongoing debate over CCSS, and addresses the arguments of some prominent critics.

Common Core State Standards: College and Career Readiness

William H. Young

William Young discusses the serious decline in literacy and quantitative skills among students currently entering college.

Common Core State Standards: Mathematics Proficiency

William H. Young

William Young discusses CCSS proposals for revitalizing K‒12 mathematics education.

Common Core State Standards: The Gettysburg Address

William H. Young

William Young examines the proposed CCSS approach to reading and textual analysis.

Common Core State Standards: Nonfiction Versus Fiction

William H. Young

Wiliam Young examines the controversy over CCSS proposals for K‒12 reading content.

Common Core State Standards: A National Curriculum?

William H. Young

William Young examines the debate over the impact of CCSS for states.

Ask a Scholar: What Impact Did Horace Mann Have On American Public Education?

Sandra Stotsky

Professor Sandra Stotsky describes Mann's shaping influence in school reform.

Common Core State Standards: The Knowledge Curriculum

William H. Young

William Young discusses proposals to base K-12 education on knowledge, rather than "skills."

Common Core State Standards: Our Mathematics Problem

William H. Young

William Young discusses the steep decline in mathematics education during the last half-century.

Common Core State Standards: Our Literacy Problem

William H. Young

William Young analyzes the sharp decline in reading proficiency among both high school and college students.

Revise or Reject: The Common Core's Serious Flaws

Sandra Stotsky

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky on why the Common Core State Standards should not be accepted without major changes.

Common Core State Standards: An Overview

William H. Young

William Young begins a new series that examines the Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core State Standards: Two Views

Mark Bauerlein

Jane Robbins describes the defects in the Common Core State Standards for English and math; Mark Bauerlein responds, seeing opportunity rather than disaster. 

Lingua Latina Manet in Aeternum

Glenn Ricketts

A suppposedly "dead" language actually seems pretty lively.

Florida Introduces Race-Based Education Goals

Glenn Ricketts

Florida's state Board of Education introduces a puzzling new way of setting K-12 education goals.

No Child Left Behind, Ten Years Later

Crystal Plum

Robert Maranto and Rod Paige review NCLB's effects on American public education.

Exam Schools: Choice, Quality, and the Right Fit

Peter Cohee

Chester Finn and Jessica Hockett's new book on exam schools surveys selective high schools and their effectiveness.

What Are Kids Reading?

Ashley Thorne

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky writes about the low levels of reading in our schools today.

Revising Teacher Education: Meaningful Change or Window Dressing?

Richard Vedder

Will the newly formed accrediting agency for education schools enact some real reforms to improve K-12 education?

The Core Conundrum

Peter Wood

Peter Wood takes note of the emerging battle over the legality of the Common Core curriculum.

Aggressive Anti-Bullying Crusade Gathers Steam

Glenn Ricketts

You can easily imagine how  “anti-bullying” policies will likely to play out on college campuses already dominated by the enforcers of sensitivity.

Ed Schools Are a Big Part of the Problem

George Leef

American primary and secondary education is feeble, largely because uneffective Ed schools must certify teachers no matter what they know about the  subject matter they teach. Also, those schools cover precious little beyond "social justice."

5th Avenue Percussions

Peter Wood

Peter Wood contrasts discontented Occupiers with another discontented group.

Event: New York Affiliate to Host Lecture by Sol Stern

Kate Hamilton

On Sunday afternoon Manhattan Institute senior fellow Sol Stern will speak in New York City on the current value of higher education.

(Not) Too Late to Apologize

Ashley Thorne

The University of Manitoba takes a misguided path to healing and reconciliation.

Single-Sex School Can Help Students Be More Well-Rounded

Ashley Thorne

NAS Board of Advisors member Christina Hoff Sommers weighs in on the question, "Is single-sex education helpful or harmful?" 

Marxist Justice and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young discusses the mainstreaming of Marxist ideas in the K-12 educational curriculum.

Unnumbered

Peter Wood

Peter Wood fears that a new proposal for improving science education will lead to even greater math illiteracy among high school graduates.

High Schools Discard the Canon

Ashley Thorne

A study led by NAS's Arkansas affiliate head finds that high school literature courses draw sparsely on the great books.

Tiger Mother at the Gym

Ashley Thorne

"I compared his math homework to a Chinese math assignment, and his is much easier."

The Core Between the States

Peter Wood

Where did the national movement for a "Common Core" in K-12 education come from, who supports it, and what it will mean for higher education?

Absent from Class

Will Fitzhugh

What are students actually doing when they are in class? Do we expect them to be academically vigilant?

They Can Write

Will Fitzhugh

Despite most people's willingness to dismiss their intellectual capabilities, high school students can rise to high standards if we expect them to.

"Shortsighted Utilitarianism" Has Ruined the Cal State System

George Leef

So argues Cal State Fresno professor Bruce Thornton in this excellent City Journal article.

Ask a Scholar: Is "White Privilege" a Good Way to Teach about Race?

Carol Iannone

Should children in elementary school attend the White Privilege Conference to learn about diversity? Isn't this a divisive approach that teaches victimization?

A New System for Rating Ed Schools

George Leef

In today's Pope Center Clarion Call, Duke Cheston writes about the new system for rating education schools.

Many British College Students Can't Write Either

George Leef

A common complaint with regard to American college grads is that they write very poorly.  Apparently, it's a problem in Britain as well.

Disadvantaged Students

Will Fitzhugh

The truly disadvantaged are those who have not been sufficiently taught how to read and write and graduate from high school unprepared for college.

Betrayed by Higher Ed...Again

David Clemens

My post “Betrayed by Higher Ed” has occasioned so many comments and emails that I want to offer a group response.

Audience Participation

Will Fitzhugh

Students should take responsibility for their own motivation to learn, not rely on teachers to provide it for them.

The Education Dimaryp

Will Fitzhugh

A visual commentary on the priorities in American public schools.

Study Shows Many States Fail in U.S. History Standards

Ashley Thorne

Where do states set the bar for teaching American history in K-12? Is the curriculum accurate, chronological, and clear? The Fordham Institute reports.

The Distance Yet to Go

Steve Balch

A new book on ideology in academe leaves some questions unanswered. How do the perspectives of students in the humanities compare with those of a more general student body? Doesn't the high percentage of liberal freshmen tell us something about K-12 education? And what about the "received wisdom effect"?

Mission: Preparation

Peter Cohee

Activism-as-learning begins before college, through the influence on schools of groups such as Facing History and the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation. What are we preparing students for?

To Make Students "College Ready," High Schools Weaken Curriculum

Ashley Thorne

NAS board member and Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas Sandra Stotsky has a new blog post, Education's Long Forgotten Vision, that chronicles the lowering of academic standards in high school, and in a domino effect, in college. 

Freshman Profile: Already Liberal

Glenn Ricketts

The current CHE features some survey data about the attitudes of last Fall's incoming college freshman class. In the first place, they think that they're pretty smart.

A Comment on My "Dumbing Down" Piece

George Leef

Annonymous Comment: In order to obtain my "Professional License" in order to be allowed to keep teaching, I have to take a bunch of inane Graduate Ed School classes.  In order to pay for those classes, I have to take on a part time job.  The part time job I have to earn the money to take the classes I need to be allowed to continue teaching high school math?  

High School Research Papers and the New York Times

Ashley Thorne

An article on Will Fitzhugh and The Concord Review mischaracterizes the NAS but brings needed attention to the "dying art of the research paper."

Arizona Embraces K-12 "Ignorance"

Glenn Ricketts

We thought it was reason to celebrate when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2281 into law, mercifully eliminating a Chicano Studies curriculum - La Raza Studies, as it was also called. Today however, one of the regular "brainstormers" at the Chronicle of Higher Education writes that a very good thing has been destroyed.

AP Tests Don't Always Benefit High School Students

Ashley Thorne

According to the San Jose Mercury News, having students take Advanced Placement tests when they aren't adequately prepared for them can cause them to miss the basics of high school education.

Ethnic Studies Teachers Sue to Reinstate La Raza Programs

Ashley Thorne

Arizona banned La Raza studies courses from its schools earlier this year, but eleven ethnic studies teachers are fighting to bring the radical programs back.

A Voice from the Front Lines of the High School English Classroom

A reader offers constructive suggestions and deepens our understanding of the reasons high school teachers don’t (and can’t) assign research papers.

Censored Study Unearthed - Why Teachers Don't Assign Research Papers

Ashley Thorne

The NAS has published a long-buried study on the state of the history research paper in American high schools. The 2002 study sponsored by The Concord Review (TCR) went unpublished when its benefactor, the Albert Shanker Institute, found the results unflattering to high school teachers. Why aren't high schools doing a better job of teaching students to write? The suppressed study finds that 95% of high school teachers think research papers are important, but 62% never assign them. According to the report, the biggest barriers to teachers are time and class size. Most teachers said that grading papers took too much personal time, and that not enough time was provided for this in the school day. Teachers surveyed taught an average of 80 students each. Assigning a 20-page paper then means having 1,600 pages to grade. The Concord Review urged high schools to support teachers by providing more time for them to grade papers. Click here to read the press release.

"It Messes Up My Fishing Time": Why American High School Teachers Don't Assign Research Papers

Peter Wood

NAS brings to light a long-suppressed research report on how American high school teachers avoid assigning research papers.

Too Little, Too Late

Candace de Russy

Wellesley, Mass.'s head of schools has publicly apologized after learning middle schoolers participated in a Muslim prayer service during a field trip last spring. During the outing the students visited the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) mosque, a controversial site because of its ownership by the Muslim American Society and questionable activities surrounding its construction. A videotape showing the prayer session, with five boys kneeling along with Muslim worshippers, was recently published. The parent who taped the session remains anonymous. Now what do you think possibly could account for this?

Ravitch Repentant

Peter Cohee

Peter Cohee reviews Diane Ravitch's book, a partial volte-face, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

Green Propaganda Popping Up All Over

Candace de Russy

In accord with a national effort to update the “No Child Left Behind Act” with an environmental component -- and renaming it the “No Child Left Inside Act” -- Maryland may soon become the first state to require an “environmental literacy” component, threaded throughout core subject areas, for high school graduation. Deborah Lambert puts this development in perspective at Accuracy in Academia, which earlier showed that environmental literacy requirements have already been inserted into higher education curricula as another way of preaching the doctrine of manmade global warming. Some colleges and universities now receive “green certifications” for their compliance. The organization spearheading this nationwide movement aimed at students is the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) ... [that] claims to have reached over 400,000 students at 850 schools through their free high school assemblies ... 'encourages students to become ‘climate heroes’ crusading against global warming' ... . The endgame, now that so many higher education institutions mandate environmental literacy for graduation? "Sustainability" as a first principle throughout all education.

Dubious Standards Coming to American High Schools

Ashley Thorne

Sandra Stotsky has some doubts about the plans of two well-funded advocacy organizations to develop new high school exams and exam-based preparation.

'Socially Judicious' Art Ed?

Candace de Russy

Watch out for it -- already a fixture in leading schools of art education --before it becomes the norm in K-12 classes throughout the land, thus vastly politicizing the arts by making anti-capitalist, race/gender/class-obsessed (ne0-Marxist) "art activists" of our young. So warns art critic Michelle Marder Kamhi, with the worthy view in mind of galvanizing parents against  proposed provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose Congressional reauthorization is pending. These provisions would, in line with Paulo Freire's dictum that all education is political, mandate social-justice art. "Art"? Such as the pro-illegal immigration creation "Brinco," or "jump" in Spanish, which would teach students to construct sneakers (jammed with compass, map, etc.) for people  attempting illegaly to cross our borders. Americans to the barricades, in the defense of true art education!

A Click of the Mouse, a Turn of the Page

Brian T. Johnson

David Brooks of the New York Times writes a fine column on the power of books in the age of the internet. His observations are prompted by a study which finds that low income elementary school students who receive books prior to summer break become better readers than peers who do not. Working with colleagues, Dr. Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee carried out the study, which will be published in Reading Psychology later in the year. This kind of book distribution program can be seen as a low-cost alternative to summer school, which brings up a couple interesting questions. Would it be a realistic and adequate substitute for summer school? If so, will it be adopted or will challenges arise to prevent or limit its implementation? Tomorrow is the last day of summer school for the local school district, in which I volunteer. I'd like to think the students have learned and grown in ways that they wouldn't have if they weren't there. However, there's no substitute for young students reading on their own and working with their parents at home.  Ceteris paribus, students and society would seem to be better off not with summer school but with this alternative. In terms of politics, it will be interesting to see the unions and the rest of the public education bureacracy react to this. If expanded,  the program could presumably be a small but important step towards today's holy grail in education policymaking - closure of the achievement gap. However, ditching summer school means school districts have a lower demand for labor. When was the last time a teachers union embraced anything of the sort?

The Disempowerment of Ethnic Studies?

Glenn Ricketts

Anyone who's followed Ashley Thorne's posts describing the recently discontinued La Raza/Chicano "studies" program in the Tucson public school sytem may well have experienced a sense of the surreal: how on earth did this balkanized, ideological bomb-throwing find its way into any classroom anywhere? Could anyone actually have been serious about a "curriculum" that could only engender ethnic chauvanism and antagonism toward non-hispanics, especially whites? Unfortunately, yes, since the Tucson program is simply an extension/imitation of what's been going on in academic precincts for quite some time now. Here you can easily find any number of undergraduate courses and "studies" programs devoted to fostering group identity, group chauvnism, group grievance, group entitlement, etc., etc. But as these two pieces (here and here) in the Chronicle of Higher Education illustrate, ethnic studies has apparently been catching some flak, even from within the academy, and the authors respectively write to mount a defense. Of course, they believe, lots of criticism predictably emanates from the incorrigible racism which perdures at all levels of American society, and which was recently made manifest in Arizona's new statute which effectively terminated the Tucson curriculum. But one of the authors interestingly argues that ethnic studies programs at the college level have been weakened by academic "liberals," who have used them as a means of celebrating "diversity' rather than generating political activism and group advocacy (as in "empowerment"). That, he concludes, is where ethnic studies needs to refocus, as the La Raza program was apparently doing so well. As the comments thread indicates, a number of academic observers with first-hand experience of similar programs also think that's exactly what's wrong with them.

Boys, Girls and Geniuses

Glenn Ricketts

Our friend Christina Sommers has frequently piqued the wrath of academic feminists by arguing that public education, far from favoring boys as legend has it, is loaded heavily against them and in favor of girls all through the K-12 years. See, for example, her book The War Against Boys, which makes that case very convincingly. In this article in today's American, the AEI magazine, Sommers illustrates how the "war" continues in the New York City school system's program for gifted students. Despite the fact that, statistically, there are approximately equivalent numbers of academically talented boys and girls, the selection process, especially the heavily verbal rather than quantitative orientation of the qualifying exams, is decidedly skewed in favor of girls. Not surprisingly, nearly three-fifths of the students selected for the special programs are girls. Of course, there's nothing wrong with providing talented girls with every opportunity to realize their potential. But equally talented boys are currently getting the very short end of the stick. It's simply one more example, Sommers concludes, of the fact that boys of every variety have been relegated to second-class status by feminist-dominated school systems. To my mind, the greatest irony lies in the fact that, despite the increasing dominance of academic, leadership and social awards by girls, many of them also graduate from high school with a strong sense of grievance and victimhood. Thus, the typically upscale suburbanite valedictorian on her way to an Ivy League school next Fall, with lots of scholarship support in hand, will often as not give an address explaining how things are so heavily stacked against women, and she fully expects to encounter massive discrimination in the years ahead. Her college experience, alas, isn't likely to dispel that outlook.

Evaluate This

Peter Cohee

A seasoned public school teacher concludes: teacher evaluations as they are don't make teachers better, don't get rid of bad teachers, aren't needed by good teachers, and don't improve schools or student learning.

Common Core Standards Miss the Mark

Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky believes new standards for grades 6-12 English are too low and don't equip students to be "college- and career-ready.

Is U.S. Edu-Rhetoric a Pipe Dream? A Teacher Wants to Know

Ashley Thorne

Teachers should be evaluated based on student performance - but on several conditions, says op-ed.

Who Should Go to College?

Glenn Ricketts

That question seems to be on the minds of many higher education watchers these days, and there's an interesting round-table discussion of it over at today's Chronicle of Higher Education. Ashley Thorne also took the measure of it last week when she cited a slew of articles whose authors think too many current college students don't belong there. That's undoubtedly true, but why is it true? From where I'm looking in, not only should many students not matriculate in colleges, they should never have been given their high school dilplomas either. Unfortunately, self-esteem based pedagogy, legions of special education support staff, litigation-minded parents and the presence of a community college in the vicinity, with its open admissions policies, all load the odds heavily in favor of turning out lots of dismally unprepared students. As the numbers of such students increase and the colleges they attend view them as customers to be kept satisfied, the pressure to dilute educational standards continues to work its way upward. As a result, we have one huge mess, from K-12 through the entire collegiate experience. How about this: instead of asking who should attend college, why not consider what educators at that level should demand of all students, irrespective of any other considerations?

How Do You View the Achievement Gap?

Ashley Thorne

NAS posted an essay, "Achievement Gap Politics," by an anonymous author whose story illustrates why ed schools try to keep students with non-progressive views out. The author writes:

First, you have to understand that educational policy is consumed by the achievement gap, which is the disparity between groups of students on most educational measures, particularly the groups of race and socio-economic income—and, if I'm going to be honest, it's race that generates the most intensity. I don't just mean that this is the number one priority. It's the only priority. The achievement gap pervades every corner of American educational policy discussion. Nothing else matters. No Child Left Behind was entirely about the achievement gap and measuring schools to see if they'd closed it. Obama's Race to the Top is just another take on the achievement gap—again, focusing on testing and this time holding teachers responsible if they can't get low-performing students to improve.

The author outlines three possible views of the achievement gap:

  1. The progressive view, which "holds that social injustice, institutionalized racism, white prejudice, and other societal ills cause the achievement gap." The solution progressives offer is "for underachievers to spend more time with achievers who will model desirable behavior."
  2. The conservative view, which says that "parents and teachers of low-performing students are the cause of the gap, by failing to give the students the correct cultural values." Conservatives argue that the solution is "hard work, family values, commitment to the importance of education, and 'no excuses.'"
  3. The third view, which the author calls the "Voldemort view" (because it must not be named) and considers the achievement gap to be the result of disparity in cognitive ability.

John Derbyshire linked to the article on the Corner at NRO.

Toward Truth in Testing

Candace de Russy

It seems that some teachers and administrators, when offered incentives (within systems such as No Child Left Behind) for boosting students' test scores, act unethically to inflate them. The Manhattan Institute's Sol Stern recounts how two brave education officials are confronting assertions of "spectacular student progress" by forcing an outside audit of the tests. Their efforts, he writes, should serve as a model for making all states "come clean" and (in education secretary Arne Duncan's words) "'stop lying to children.'"

Radio Segment on 'Indoctrinate Our Kids and Green My Parents'

Ashley Thorne

A discussion on the consequences of urging children to monitor their parents' energy and water use in the home.

Indoctrinate Our Kids and Green My Parents

Ashley Thorne

Today kids are taught to be eco-warriors...and re-educate their parents.

The Saga of Barbaric Paul Robeson HS

Candace de Russy

A teen went public about her failing high school -- a sick, sick place in Brooklyn where students have sex and smoke dope in the stairwells, where pregnancies and smoking pot are the stuff of every day, and where administrators and security guards are lazy and incompetent. For her efforts, according to the New York Post, the student, Alisha Strawder, was barred from the school and told that it cannot guarantee her safety. One student told the Post: "Everyone wants to fight her, to jump her. If they find her, they're going to beat her up." Is it possible to reverse such institutionalized depravity? This young girl, unlike most of the educational establishment, has had the courage to try.

Ratatat, Sissy, Bay State Boom: Obama Whacks K-12 Standards

Peter Wood

Critics say Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards Initiative will make K-12 education worse.

Is Our Children Learning?

Peter Wood

A review of Diane Ravitch's new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

The New K-12 Standards Debate

Peter Wood

Under pressure, 48 states have proposed common standards for grades K-12. Some of them are having second thoughts. What do you think?

Race Tracking

Ashley Thorne

UMass computer scientists design math tutoring software that matches students with digital coaches according to their race and ethnicity. What message does that send students?

Race to the Bottom?

Candace de Russy

Education reformers have generally been giving President Obama’s K-12 agenda, with its touted openness to charter schools and teacher assessment based on student performance, the benefit of the doubt.

But now the Wall Street Journal informs us that the final regulations of the Administration’s $4.38 billion “Race to the Top” initiative

allow states to use “multiple measures,” including peer reviews, to evaluate instructors. This means states that prohibit student test data from being used to measure a teacher’s performance may be eligible for the federal funds, even though the President clearly said that they wouldn’t be.

    Nor are states any longer required to embrace charter schools to win a grant … states that prohibit charters can still receive Race to the Top dollars so long as they have other kinds of “innovative public schools.” That’s an invitation for states to game the criteria by relabeling a few traditional public schools as innovative.

Surprise! It looks like the Administration has caved to the teachers unions, which has fought precisely these eligibility requirements. Reformers should jump on this case at once. We can ill afford billions of dollars more in waste of taxpayers’ money and children’s minds.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peter Wood

A New Jersey school teacher says there is "no conclusive evidence that the first Thanksgiving happened."

'Brainy' Cult Lessons in NYC

Candace de Russy

So brain-dead is much of contemporary education that, at first blush, one might be tempted at least to give the benefit of the doubt to a "Brain Education" program in which thousands of New York City public-school students and teachers are participating. Except that this program, which so far has caused the state's taxpayers $400,000, is now alleged to have ties to a cult. Numerous former employees of an organization called Dahn Yoga -- whose founder developed the teachings for Brain Education -- allege the program is controlled by a group that is part of a huge web of interrelated companies that, in the Post's words, "reels people in with lovey-dovey, group-building activities before steadily ratcheting up the pressure" and cons "participants into investing all their time and money in unproven health and healing activities." Moreover, these employees charge that Dahn Yoga's "activities are abusive and grow increasingly devotional over time to the group's founder and spiritual leader, 57-year-old Seung Huen 'Ilchi' Lee." (On the abuse front, note that Dahn Yoga has been sued by the family of Julia Siverls -- a healthy, 41-year-old CUNY professor who died during an endurance hike sponsored by the group. Her family alleged that Siverls had been drugged and made to hike in desert heat with 40 pounds of rocks in her backpack and with little water. Another former Dahn employee who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Lee settled her case against him.) But how to illustrate  Brain Education at work on the ground in New York? At a Bronx elementary school, for example, students were instructed to say, "I love your Power Brain face," to one another and to rap songs with lyrics like "I love my thalamus." You get the picture. More mad pedagogies and pedagogical scams. And more mad neglect of students who desperately need to learn to read and write, among other tried and true paths to real cerebral empowerment.

Blue Blastoff

Ashley Thorne

A school in lower Manhattan created by the Blue Man Group believes we can't teach kids facts anymore...but we can teach them to "build a harmonious and sustainable world."

Running in Place

Peter Wood

Candace de Russy on Phi Beta Cons links a website picture of a test about the Constitution given in 1954 in which an 8th grader, Kenny Hignite, scored 98½ percent by listing all the cabinet positions and the people holding them, all the justices of the Supreme Court, the substance of the first 22 amendments, and more. It is a feat few eighth graders could perform today—or for that matter, few adults, and certainly few college students. The thinness of substantive knowledge among today’s students is often remarked in a general way. But there actually is a systematic study comparing the general knowledge of high school grads from Kenny Hignite’s era with today’s college grads. In December 2002, the NAS published a survey, "Today's College Students and Yesteryear's High School Grads: A Comparison of General Cultural Knowledge." We did this by commissioning Zogby International to poll a sample of 2002 college seniors with 15 questions regarding "cultural knowledge" that had originally been administered to similar groups of high school seniors in 1955. These included knowledge of canonical authors, geographical knowledge or watershed historical events. The results were not reassuring. 61% of high school seniors polled in 1955 knew that Madrid was the capital of Spain; 63% of college seniors in 2002 also knew. At the same time, 67% of those responding in 1955 knew that Maine bordered Canada, while only 50% of 2002 college seniors answered correctly. Overall, we found that the two groups - high school seniors of 1955 and college seniors of 2002 - were approximately equivalent in their general cultural and historical knowledge. We could be pleased, I suppose, that absolute decline hasn’t set in. But we should also keep in mind that 1955 was before Sputnik, and the first great national effort to raise academic standards to keep up with the Soviets. And it was before the 1965 Higher Education Act began the immense federally-funded expansion of higher education. All those billions spent improving our schools and colleges may have done something, but they don’t appear to have improved American’s cultural knowledge. What we have instead is college seniors who perform at the level of 1950s high school students.

Message to Ed Schools: Practice What You Teach

Ashley Thorne

Teachers-in-training should learn something before they begin teaching. But they should not learn just anything.

Ideological Indoctrination in Public School

Mitchell Langbert

During the recent election season I met  two Republicans who told me about instances of Ulster County, NY public school teachers' using schools to ideologically brainwash children.  In one case a middle-aged man from Kingston, NY described a fifth grade teacher who repeatedly told his class to support specific left-wing political candidates.  In a second, an Olive, NY woman and advertising copy writer wrote me that  "my son was told that Snow White's dwarfs represented the disaffected union workers, that conservative judges wanted to steal freedom from the people."  She writes that she was "shocked, in denial, and ineffective". As a business professor at the City University of New York and adjunct at New York University I have frequently heard from undergraduate and MBA students who have been brainwashed.  Last year on the first day of an MBA-level management class, a young Wall Street trader raised his hand and said that the only thing that matters for business now is "whether the United States should become a socialist country."  That was not the first instance of a first-day-of-class revolutionary declaration. On another occasion an undergrad raised his hand and asked in all seriousness about the implications for business of the coming proletarian revolution. One reaction to the politicization of elementary schools and their use for brainwashing of children has been withdrawal and home schooling.  The woman who contacted me has proposed a different approach--a systematic training program for parents to enable them to respond to the use of schools for political purposes.

The Highest Form of Flattery...and Learning

Ashley Thorne

New scientific findings show that children learn faster when they imitate adults; this contrasts with "child-centered" progressive ed school philosophy.

Old Ills, New Remedies: A Conversation with Diane Auer Jones

Carol Iannone

This interview appeared in the "Case Studies in Academic Maladies" issue of Academic Questions (vol. 22, no. 3)

Tapping the Bottle

Ashley Thorne

Achieving the Dream works for equity, not equality.

Tuesday Tuba

Ashley Thorne

Mac Mods in the Chronicle, the TESOL seesaw, and the climate action promise.

"Texans Are Stupid" and Other Lessons from the Public Schools

Elena Callas

A teacher reflects on the politics she has seen in K-12 classrooms -and the playground.

Quorsum Haec?

Glenn Ricketts

The College Board strives for a Latinless America.

Balloon Animals

Peter Wood

How Massachusetts teachers brush up on their skills.

Testing 1, 2, 3

Peter Wood

On the role of high school Advanced Placement courses and exams today.

Slouching Toward the Therapeutic University: Part 1

Tom Wood

In the first of this three-part series, Tom Wood contrasts self-alienation and student-centered pedagogy.

Charles Murray and Progressive Education-Part 3

Tom Wood

In the conclusion of this three-part series, Tom Wood discovers an unexpected affinity beteen Charles Murray and the "progressive" educators.

Education and Intelligence-Part 4:The Flynn Effect

Tom Wood

In the concluding part of this four-part series, Tom Wood examines a paradox at the heart of intelligence testing.

21st Century Ignorance

Peter Wood

A new dictionary of educational lingo misses the latest fad: "21st century skills."

Education and Intelligence--Part 2

Tom Wood

In the second of this four-part series, Tom Wood compares two key exams, NAEP and CLA. Both show that education improves intelligence.

Education and Intelligence-A Response to Charles Murray

Tom Wood

Formal education actually improves intelligence, and we have the data to prove it. Should anyone be surprised?

Mathematical Deceptions

Peter Wood

A University of Illinois-Chicago professor of math education reminisces about his efforts to radicalize eighth-grade math students.

Dinner with Dick and Jane

Peter Wood

Reading instruction has come a long way (or is it far gone?) since We Come and Go.

Ichabod Rides Again: A Halloween Fable

Peter Wood

What happenned to the teacher from Sleepy Hollow who longed to see the "whole child."

Making Allowances

Ashley Thorne

Want to keep students on the track to academic success? Pay them!

Sheep in Wolve's Clothing: A Business-as-Usual Group Tries on the Rhetoric of School Reform

Peter Wood

One education organization seeks to solve an unnamed crisis by paying teachers more and sending more students to college.

A Couple of Curiosities

Peter Wood

A note on two interesting pieces of education news: PBS hosts the

Protecting the Prickly: La Raza Studies

Ashley Thorne

NAS takes a look at La Raza studies, a public school program in Tucson, where the cactuses are plentiful and so is the bitterness.

Save It or Scrap It?

Peter Wood

Come the next presidency, what's to be done with No Child Left Behind?

The Shaggy Dog Story: Has 'Reading First' Flopped?

Ashley Thorne

After the Department of Education released a study indicating the failure of federal initiative Reading First, NAS seized the moment to ponder such programs' efficacy in teaching children to read.

Little Delawares All Over :Diversity Indoctrination, K-12 Branch

Hans Bader, a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes that the Delaware Indoctrination Syndrome has a k-12 counterpart. A common thread is the presence of what Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn in her 2001 book dubbed "race experts." In Delaware, it was Shakti Butler. As Mr. Bader points out, another expert, Glenn Singleton, is making a career of promoting similar themes in K-12 public schools. See Mr. Bader's postings at www.openmarket.org, e.g., November 16, 20, and 27, and December 3.

Little Delawares All Over: Diversity Indoctrination, K-12 Branch

Hans Bader, a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes that the Delaware Indoctrination Syndrome has a k-12 counterpart. A common thread is the presence of what Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn in her 2001 book dubbed "race experts." In Delaware, it was Shakti Butler. As Mr. Bader points out, another expert, Glenn Singleton, is making a career of promoting similar themes in K-12 public schools. See Mr. Bader's postings at www.openmarket.org, e.g., November 16, 20, and 27, and December 3.

U.S. Commission: "Little Evidence" Diversity Improves Student Performance

The United States Commission on Civil Rights has just issued a major report, The Benefits of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education. (Available in PDF here.) The Commission reached a startling conclusion: "there is little evidence that racial and ethnic diversity in elementary and secondary schools results in significant improvement in academic performance."