June 29, 2009

Nothing I didn't already believe

I read (really, skimmed, is a better word) Real Educationby Charles Murray this weekend. His "four simple truths for bringing America's schools back to reality" seem so common sense to me that it scares me a little that the book needed to be published. However, it did need to be published. Walking through the halls of many schools and talking to many of my teacher friends I have seen the great need for this book.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has become the opposite ... don't move any child ahead for fear someone will feel bad about themselves. Unfortunately, my slogan doesn't have a great abbreviation (DMACAFFSWFBAT). I see students struggling to meet basic standards that they are not capable of meeting. These kids aren't dumb or stupid, they just don't have the mind that grasps the concepts. One kid I know who has failed multiple math TAKS tests is a gifted writer. On girl can out-math me but struggles with reading. Can't we give these kids some real help? Can't we embrace the differences in our kids and teach to them, not to the test?

I wish I had the answers.

Some memorable quotes from the book:

For a society of immigrants such as ours, the core knowledge is our shared identity that makes us Americans together rather than hyphenated Americans.

Even the best schools will inevitably have students who do not perform at grade level.

If academically gifted children come to the end of middle school reading enthusiastically and enjoying the challenge of intellectual tasts, their test scores are irrelevant. (emphasis mine) Let gifted children go as fast as they can

Choices to not attend college or to drop out of college and go to work need our understanding and--this is imperative--our respect.

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