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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Obama, Kristof, Duncan and the NY Times all agree

I had some hopes for education when Obama was elected. Gone now. Here is what happened:

Nicholas Kristof, an otherwise seemingly intrepid journalist, wrote a column in the NY Times about how he now realizes that education is our most important priority, and that the solution is higher teacher salaries and memorizing math songs like they do at the KIPP schools. This column was so wrong-headed that I decided to try and contact him so that I could help him understand the issues in education better. I asked a friend who could help me do that. This is what he told me:

Both the New York Times and the Obama administration are very concerned with keeping education exactly as it has been. They are afraid that if radical changes occurred they would be criticized by poor people because they will be seen as having kept the kind of education that made them successful away from the poor. The people who run Washington and New York went to the best academic schools, so any attempt to transform high schools into places where learning is fun and where real world skills are taught, has to be stopped because it would be received badly by poor people and this be politically damaging to the folks in power.

In other words, no job training, no life training, but more algebra and Dickens and Chemistry formulas. Despite the fact that those things were put into the curriculum originally by elitists in a very different world who cared not at all for the poorer classes learning these things is perceived by them as on the road to success and that idea will not be fought.

I have always said that everything evil in education starts with P. Politicians and the Press have always been my two favorites. They don't want to fix education, they want to make it look like it has been fixed.

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