Friday, March 04, 2011

Daily Show: Diane Ravitch

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diane Ravitch
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As so often seems to be the case, The Daily Show's comedy makes more sense than the strait news shows "factual coverage".

Ravitch is on to something blaming poor relative performance of so many American schools on the poverty of their students rather than on their teachers. I fear that there is still a deeper cause. The kids are poor because they come from a subculture "of poverty".

I live in a suburb of Washington DC. In the District of Columbia, ten percent of the residents have served prison sentences. An unusually large portion of mothers are unmarried. There is an exceptionally high level of HIV infection as compared with other parts of the United States. Drug use is high. And of course, a large portion of the kids going to DC schools live in economic poverty. Given their home lives, no wonder a lot of them don't see the benefits of schooling and don't do well in school.

Kids also do poorly on test scores in schools in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico -- states with significant problems of racial discrimination.

It is very hard to raise incomes of a large population. It is also hard to change culture in a large population, and it is the culture of the whole of the society that probably has to be changed to really solve the problems of schools. The countries that do well on international tests are often those with homogeneous populations and strong cultural commitment to education.

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