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Bruno: Good News Bad For Our Narratives

Argument-cartoonOver at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby has been on a tear recently pointing out that pundits of all kinds seem to be stubbornly indifferent to good education news. He emphasizes the shrinking achievement gap between black students and white students on the NAEP as something you rarely see mentioned, and I'd add that to the growing pile of good-but-largely-ignored news that includes rising achievement for disadvantaged groups generally and improving school safety.  Bob thinks we can chalk up this news blackout to the fact that commentators have sorted themselves into "tribes", each of which dislikes the other too much to risk inadvertently crediting them with an accomplishment.  I think there's definitely a lot to that explanation, but that there's also a real fear on both sides of undermining their preferred narrative.  My sense is that "reformers" don't want to talk about the good news because then they'd have to acknowledge that these positive trends mostly began prior to their favorite reforms. This would undermine the narrative that the "status quo" of salary schedules and tenure is an insurmountable obstacle to progress. At the same time, I think the anti-reform crowd is reluctant to discuss the good news because it has continued in the "corporate reform" era. This, in turn, makes the repeal of NCLB-type reforms seem that much less urgent. Whatever the explanation, however, the end result seems to be that we mostly hear about how bad our educational institutions are despite the fact that these same institutions are not only improving, but are arguably the best they've ever been. - PB (@MrPABruno) (Image source)

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Actually, I see the point made all the time by public-school supporters such as Diane Ravitch who point out that the "our schools are failing" narrative is greatly exaggerated (to justify experimenting with unproven "reforms" on vulnerable children, schools and communities). I'll start shipping those references your way until you cry "uncle," @Paul!

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