Friday, November 27, 2009

The 2009 Bracey Report

I saw a reference to this in an ISTE Special Interest Group on Digital Equity mailing:

The just-published
The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education, 2009, by Gerald Bracey, looks at what the author considers to be "three of the most important assumptions about how to reform public education", namely:
  1. High-quality schools can eliminate the achievement gap between whites and minorities.
  2. Mayoral control of public schools is an improvement over the more common elected board governance systems.
  3. Higher standards will improve the performance of public schools.

Exactly! Today these three points are usually passed on as if they are facts. Self-evident truths. Obvious. Of course. They are the bedrock of education policy in Chicago Public Schools.

And of course they aren't "facts", they aren't self-evident; and they aren't obvious. As assumptions, they are fundamentally ideological positions and essentially political.

Some points from the report that I would like to highlight:
  • Poverty is an objective factor in educational performance. Poverty has biological, social and psychological consequences that negatively affect educational performance. (The report details many different aspects of this.) Schools (and certainly not teachers) alone cannot resolve this problem.
  • The idea that mayoral control of education helps education is strictly a political assertion, and is not backed up by a serious review of its results in Chicago and New York (the most visible instances of mayoral control).
  • Organizing education around standardized, multiple choice tests and viewing education through the narrow slit of test data is antithetical both to educating human beings, and if you need a market rationale, to developing workers for the workplace of today and tomorrow.
I recommend the report. It has a great bibliography, too.

The Bracey Report comes from the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado and the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State. Gerald Bracey is also the author of Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality. Bracey passed away on October 20, 2009.


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