a great letter from a reader of TGS
I just finished reading The Good School in one sitting and I have to say that you wrote the book I wanted to write. I am a high school English teacher (15 years)...I've recently become very alarmed at where our schools are headed. The thing is this: most "middle class" parents aren't even aware of how bad the situation is and could be. I, myself, was astounded .. that so little of what we do as teachers has real scientific basis. Why? We have the science as you've shown, but districts are far more interested in bringing in educational speakers for pep talks than giving real science. In my school, too, there are so many teachers who are content to teach the same year every year with worksheets galore. And while I teach HS English, I knew instinctively that my second grader was missing something (real phonics instruction) in his "balanced literacy" curriculum. Yet, when I once sent the Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum information on Open Court because they were giving free materials, she responded curtly, "We don't do Open Court" as if I'd suggested she eat a frog or something.
There is a definite connection from mediocre schools to America's decline and high unemployment. I recently traveled to India on a two week teaching exchange and we should be very afraid. Indian students were so well prepared and eager to learn. Yet, I feel we could really take advantage of America's strengths in our diversity and creativity. If only parents knew how mediocre their schools really are. We hear a ton about the lowest performing schools and we all know that rich districts have their first graders learning Mandarin. It is the middle class schools that need attention, yet parents need a wake-up call to realize this and do something about it.