M. Night Shyamalan wrote a book about education reform. In a surprise third act twist, it's revealed he has no idea how to improve under-performing schools. Seriously.
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Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, educational reformers have to recommend educational reforms. Even when they know reform is not going to work, and won't even address the problems at hand, they still have to do it. It's in their nature.
Kevin Drum provides a striking example of this in a post from last week. Drum is discussing M. Night Shyamalan's recent book on education, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap.
As Shyamalan discovered (and as Drum reiterates), the startling truth about the problem with our school system is that there isn't any problem with our school system. Or, at least, there's nothing wrong with our school system for white kids. As Drum says, "If you compare American white kids to, say, Finnish or Polish or German white kids, we do just as well." Shyamalan goes further, and says, "Our white kids are getting taught the best public-school education on the planet." The entire reason we score low on national comparisons is because we do such a horrible job of educating inner city minority kids.
The issue is not that we don't know how to provide good schooling, or that we have bad teachers, or that our system isn't rigorous enough. Rather, it’s that we practice what Shyamalan calls "educational apartheid." For some people, we provide schooling as good as anywhere in the world. And then, for some people, we don't.
So, what’s the solution? How can we start to give the best education in the world not just to the privileged few, but to everyone?
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