About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Faith-based Education

I hate the mantra, "No Excuses." Paul Tough recounted the more modest, original intention of the slogan, and observed that it can be hard to distinguish between an excuse and an explanation. When theorists, however, can not tell the difference between an "excuse" and a "reason," they might as well proclaim, No Rationality. Since the research on "No Excuses" schools by the Right and "High Expectations" on the Left has been repudiated, I see the continued use of the term as basically a method of keeping hard truths from being expressed.

My favorite memory of this dynamic has probably been embellished by repeated retelling, but I recall the young administrator who had onlySlimpickens2_2 taught in suburban schools as he exhorted social studies teachers. "The high school excuse is to blame the middle school, which blames the elementary school, which blames the home, and then we are saying ..."

White teachers squirmed uncomfortably until a Black teacher said, "If you are blaming all these rednecks here, we’re cool, but ..."

The laughter temporarily slowed the administrator’s ardor, but he came back to the same old Education Trust message.

This time I derailed him with a joke, but the young idealist looked like characters in "Dr. Strangelove" as they struggled to keep their true feelings from bursting out.

Unable to help himself, the administrator repeated the secondary to elementary school to home cycle of blame. Again it fell to a Black teacher to ask (this time in a more serious voice) "are you calling us racists or incompetents?"

"If the shoe fits!" the central office theorist exploded.

High expectations, along with the capacity to build trusting relationships and real interventions, are necessary for turning around high poverty schools. To proclaim "No Excuses"without giving us the tools for the job, however, is like a faith healer shouting "Heal" without reminding the listener to put his hands on the radio.  - John Thompson

Comments

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e54f8c25c98834010534d24fe9970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Faith-based Education :

Permalink

Permalink URL for this entry:
https://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2008/09/turn-the-radio.html

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

You hit the nail on the head in your call for greater capacity building. The countries that commonly perform very well on international comparisons of student performance generally do a great deal to build teachers' capacity to support struggling students. In many cases, those countries also maintain strong social service structures that address the needs of disadvantaged children.

Our newly-published interviews with Andreas Schleicher of the OECD and Reijo Laukkanen of the Finnish National Board of Education bear out this point.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.