Media: Salon Writer Shakes Angry Fist At Reform
Reform critics are swooning over David Sirota's latest Salon.com missive (New data shows school “reformers” are full of it) for understandable reasons. It's main thesis is as follows: "Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy." (And it includes lots of links, and no small amount of outrage.)
But is there anything useful and good in what Sirota is saying? I'm not so sure. No doubt, poverty has an enormous effect on kids' lives and often on their academic achievement. No doubt, there's lots that could be done to make the system more fair (get rid of local school districts, eliminate "salary averaging"). And as you've read here several times recently, child poverty has been on the rise (as has the number of high-poverty public schools).
But nobody credible that I know of is suggesting that poverty isn't a major factor, or that most teachers aren't doing everything they can / know how to do to make things work for poor kids. Citing Joanne Barkan, as Sirota does repeatedly, isn't particularly persuasive to me at least. Blaming education reform for worsening the achievement gap? I'm not buying it.
Is there anyone out there writing about poverty, race, and inequality in ways that seem a little less heated and perhaps more credible? Tanehisi Coates at Atlantic.com comes to mind.