School Reform: A Crisis of Expectations

Do we really have a school crisis in America, or is it a “crisis” of unrealistic expectations? What are these expectations? That all kids can achieve at the highest levels, that all kids can be successful in school and in life, and that all kids can go to college if they really try. And isn’t it the school system’s job to make sure our expectations are fulfilled? A pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say?

In some school districts, parents who can provide transportation are able to get their kids into schools of their choice, such as Magnet Schools or Charter Schools. The kids who are left behind remain there because their parents don’t have the resources, the education, or the foresight to get them into a better situation. As a result, most kids who are left behind are not average achievers. They tend to be low achievers, yet we still rate our teachers based on these students’ achievement test scores. How colossally unfair to teachers.

Let’s consider an analogous situation. Nurses who work exclusively with the critically ill are respected for their professional knowledge and efforts, but a good percentage of their patients die! Would we compare their patient outcomes with nurses in a general hospital? No, of course not. That’s because we have altered our expectations to a rational level based on our correct supposition that not all patients will live forever and that nurses and doctors can’t cure all of their patients.

Next: How did this get started?101_0126

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