Sunday, August 16, 2015

ICYMI: This Week's Great Reads

In case you missed it, here are some of the more important reads from the last week. Happy Sunday!

The Costs of Accountability by Jerry Z. Muller
If you are only going to get to one item on this list, this should probably be it. Muller puts the cult of accountability in a historic and cultural context, shows how it slammed into education, and reminds us that schools are not the only ones to suffer from accountability's heavy and not very bright hand.

Schools are more segregated than they were in 1968
Article in particular looks at how the Supreme Court has not exactly been a big help in working on the issue.

Testing in kindergarten
Okay, if you read here, you likely read Diane Ravitch, but just in case you missed this among the gazillion posts, here's a must read account of what kindergarten testing actually looks like on the classroom level.

Pinellas Failure Factories
Okay, maybe this is the one piece you must read. A hard-hitting, thorough look at how racism and school district mismanagement can turn successful schools into a disaster. And all, I am sorry to note, in the name of neighborhood schools.

Education's Merchant of Doubt
Whenever you find the assertion that spending money on schools is just a waste of time and makes no difference, you'll find the work of Eric Hanushek. This is a great and thorough takedown of who he is, what his work says, and why it's all bunk.

Alfie Kohn on growth mindset 
Alfie Kohn takes on the idea of growth mindsets and shows why they've turned from a potentially useful tool into one more educational baloneyfest.

Man, these are all must reads this week. I hope you have a few extra minutes to sit and check them out today!


  1. Thanks for the reading suggestions!

    I don't always read Diane's blog, so I appreciate the link to Phyliss' post. What a good job she does showing why kindergartners shouldn't be asked to take standardized tests! I wonder if the NJDOE paid any attention to it?

    I appreciate the author's dry sense of humor in Merchant of Doubt. I hate Eric Hanushek so much. (I don't hate very many people; Dick Cheney is the only other who comes to mind.) I can't figure out if he's stupid (despite his degrees,) a liar, or has some sort of sociopathic agenda, or all three. I also can't figure out why any sane and rational person would listen to him.

    Alfie Kohn's article is so excellent! It also resonates with me because my mom read me The Little Engine that Could with "I think I can, I think I can" when I was little, and I hated it and couldn't understand it. Even at that age it made no sense to me that you should be able to do something just by "thinking positively" and "believing you can" (sort of like Arne's "kids with disabilities can do anything if you expect them to.") It just made me feel inadequate if I was already trying as hard as I could, and I think even at that age I felt (not exactly like this because I was little, but this was the idea): But what if I don't have the tools or knowledge or physical strength or training to do it? How can I be expected to do something successfully just by trying harder if I don't know how?

  2. Thanks for the reference to the excellent Muller article, Peter. And I had indeed missed the resegregation and Alfie Kohn "growth mindset" articles, so thanks for referencing them as well!

  3. From Muller:
    "The patients died, but the metrics improved."
    Yep - all we need to say.

  4. The Muller is superb. Thank you so much for these links.