Thursday, March 31, 2005

Mission Impossible

Three dozen school district superintendents signed an open letter to legislators this month in which they asked for more education dollars to accomplish a mission they claim “has changed from providing universal access [to a quality education] to insuring universal success for all students.” [emphasis added]

They need the same reality check many critics have wisely voiced in the face of President Bush’s federal education mandates: No amount of money or time will ever make it possible to achieve universal academic success. Period. There is no virtue in denying this reality. Utopian ideals may sound nice, but few things are more destructive than utopian policy. ...

Read the rest of my commentary here.


At 11:40 AM, Blogger RLG said...

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…” So goes the expression, meant to instill the notion that success is the result of persistent effort. But these utopian educators seem to be following an alternative idea that failure should be followed by simply raising the standard for “success”! Or, as you put it, shifting one’s goal from the merely difficult to “Mission Impossible.” Maybe that’s how things work in utopia; so far, no one’s ever reported back with this kind of information.

One mark of “maturity” is setting realistic goals, neither under-estimating nor over-estimating what’s involved in success. The immature responses to failure are thus to either, give up too soon because success is “out of reach,” or attempt so little that “success” is not accompanied by improved performance, alternately excusing failures as “too hard” or congratulating one’s self on mediocre achievements.

Our educational elite are noticeably proud of their current level of achievement, having made the focus of education the rather easily attained goal of high self-esteem, and so they are encouraged to move on to the challenges of “perfection”! Unless their goal of “Mission Impossible” is only a disguised version of continued mediocrity, we can expect that their tone to change from smug self-satisfaction to “it’s too hard!”

What is meant to be implied is that the current level of achievement, rather than being recognized as failure relative to the true goals of education, is treated as “success” due to the low standards used to measure accomplished results. This is what encourages them to push on to “higher levels” more worthy of their exaggerated talents.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger RLG said...

Oops! Change the wording in the next-to-last paragraph to "their tone will change..."

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