In his Class Struggle online column, Jay Mathews tries to point out Seven Ways Politicians are Dumb About Schools.
Here are my seven least favorite but most common and misleading things politicians say about schools:
1. A good way to measure the quality of schools in each state is by average SAT score.
Agreed. Average SAT scores is a very poor way to evaluate schools. So is using any other standardized test.
2. It is bad to have programs that encourage educators to teach to a test.
If that’s something politicians say, why do so many of them blindly support NCLB? Why does Mathews support it?
3. Schools would be better if they stopped promoting low-achieving students to the next grade.
Another blanket political statement that ignores the complexity of how people learn. As Mathews notes, ending “social promotion” and holding students back in a grade rarely works.
4. Lowering class size is always a good idea.
I don’t recall many politicians making this claim. They usually say it’s too expensive.
5. It is education policy and not specific school successes that matter.
This, however, is something almost all of them believe.
6. What schools need is more money.
They do when politicians pile on unfunded, unrealistic, and educationally unsound policies.
7. Electing new leaders will help fix our schools.
Not unless the new folks are willing to support some radical – and potentially unpopular – fundamental reforms of the educational system.