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College Fix editor reviews book on why education fads don’t help low-achieving students

College Fix assistant editor Dave Huber recently reviewed the book “The Roots of Low Achievement: Where to Begin Altering Them” for the National Association of Scholars journal Academic Questions. 

Author Sandra Stotsky’s theme is failure — the failure of education policymakers to develop real solutions to the continuing problem of low achievement in the nation’s schools. Stosky’s views are “clearly in the minority,” Huber writes, but “this doesn’t make her wrong.”

Professor Stotsky’s ideas are centered around sociologist James Coleman’s 1966 report “Equality of Educational Opportunity” which posits the most important factor for success in school is family background. Unfortunately, educrats and racial progressives believe this view is “blaming the victim” … and as such, policies get enacted which do little but make their creators feel good.

From the review:

At the local level, [Stotsky] advocates development of high school subject standards which are taught by teachers who have passed research-based, state-developed exams. “Effective” teachers would be those with “verbal skills and mastery of the subject(s) taught.” At the federal level, Stotsky proposes ending Department of Education “four-year state education plans” (“declare them unconstitutional”), ceasing funding for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and “gap-closing research,” and forbidding data collection on American students’ race, ethnicity, and religion. …

It’s likely we’ll never again see innovative programs like that created by my high school social studies department; its curriculum included courses on economics, international relations, psychology, political science, and metropolitan studies (which dealt with local government and individual finance). Now, teacher creativity and inspiration are stunted as state and federal-mandated curricula require scripted lessons almost down to the exact word. …

I fear […] animus [about “blaming the victim”] would await Stotsky if she ever gave a […] presentation. Still, as George Packer wrote recently in the Atlantic, “one day the fever will break,” the “fever” being the failure of ill-conceived ideas in which those in power are “too absorbed.” And when that happens, the appeal of Stotsky’s recommendations will become obvious.

Read the full piece.

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