I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Competing With The World"

Bob Somerby makes a very important point:
Brutal history, and recent policies, largely explain that PISA score—the score which embarrassed the horse’s ass O’Hehir at Salon,the score which led the horse’s ass Guggenheim to make his deeply unintelligent film. When you look at these “disaggregated” test scores, you’re looking at the actual shape of America’s actual educational challenges. (For links to all data, see below.) And no, the realities reflected in these scores were not invented by America’s teachers, or by their infernal unions:
Combined science literacy scale, PISA, 2006:Finland 563
Canada 534
Japan 531
New Zealand 530
Australia 527
Netherlands 525
[United States, white students: 523]Korea, Republic of 522
Germany 516
United Kingdom 515
Czech Republic 513
Switzerland 512
Austria 511
Belgium 510
Ireland 508
Hungary 504
Sweden 503
OECD average: 500Poland 498
Denmark 496
France 495
Iceland 491
United States 489Slovak Republic 488
Spain 488
Norway 487
Luxembourg 486
Italy 475
Portugal 474
Greece 473
[United States, Hispanic students: 439]Turkey 424
Mexico 410
[United States, black students: 409]
Gaze on the shape of your nation’s history! White students scored fairly high, despite the drag of a certain sub-group; if they were a separate nation, they would have finished seventh out of thirty developed nations. And how about a hand for our teachers? This score was achieved despite the drag of a sub-population whose parents and ministers tell them not to believe the things they hear in science class! (This just in: Finland doesn’t have a “creation museum” where children are taken to see cave men living with the dinosaurs. Finland doesn’t have a major state whose school board is working hard to muck up the nation’s textbooks.) [emphasis mine]
Lay aside what I believe are some difficulties with any international comparison - this is a very important point to understand.

We are a nation of immigrants and a nation that oppressed African-Americans for hundreds of years (and, in some ways, still does). If you think we can wish that away just by claiming "All children can learn!", you are either a fool or a knave.

We have a lot of work to do to truly live our to our ideals. But bashing teachers and unions is much easier than redressing the injustices that have plagued this country throughout our history.

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