There is a narrative that's formed over the past thirty years in America. Beginning with A Nation at Risk and having been adopted by nearly every president since, it goes like this:
- American students don't perform well on global tests.
- Public schools are the cause of this lack of performance.
- Breaking apart the public school system via vouchers and charter schools is the answer to solving our global performance woes.
The problem with all of this is that it's only partly true. Diane Ravitch is quick to point out that our schools are far better than they appear to be. Those charter schools can be amazingly great ... or routinely average depending on the school.
Sounds like a commentary on schools in general- depends where you are. I'm not sure that Ravitch's argument is anything more than an observation. It doesn't take anything away from a school like Science Leadership Academy which is kicking butt.
I'm curious to read Amanda Ripley's new book, the Smartest Kids in the World. She gives a gentle challenge to Ravitch and argues that American schools can do better.
After all, we're talking about kids and their future- the best just seems like a standard that they deserve.