Something’s Rotten In Education

Gerald W. Bracey, an education researcher, writer, and someone not afraid to voice his opinion on the state of American Education, offers his Rotten Apple Awards for 2004 [via Education News]. Bracey is not at all kind to the people who dump misleading and outright false educational research into the public media as a way to foster their political ideology. What’s worse for the awardees, he actually understands the data and is not afraid to throw their numbers and words back in their faces.

It’s a long article and well worth some time to read it all, but in this space I’m just going to nominate my two favorites of Bracey’s awards.

The “Best Performance at not Recognizing Their Own Logic" Award: The authors of No Child Left Behind.

The text of the 1100 page law uses the phrase “scientifically based research” on average once every ten pages and the Department of Education denied New York City $47 million until it abandoned its reading program of choice for one the Department had approved.  Yet there is no scientific research based for the law itself.  In fact, there is no research base for it at all.  Nothing in the annals of education research would lead one to believe that testing kids every year and punishing schools that don’t make arbitrary increases in test scores is a good way to improve education.

The "Best Performance in Calling for Scientifically-Based Research and Then Suppressing Scientifically-Based Research: George W. Bush and the Bush Administration.

Ron Suskind captured the utter scariness of the Bush attitude toward science in a New York Times article, “Without a Doubt.”  Wrote Suskind, “This is one key feature of the faith-based presidency: open dialogue, based on facts, is not seen as something of inherent value.”  In the Bush faith-based approach, the lame old saw, “my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts,” assumes chilling new force.

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