Martin Center column highlights an academic truth-teller

Mark Bauerlein writes for the Martin Center about a powerful critic of academia.

People in the education policy and funding worlds don’t like Sandra Stotsky. For years she has been a robust critic of too many things educators, ed school professors, school administrators, and philanthropists have hailed and implemented. She doesn’t spare people’s feelings and she won’t relax her standards.

Stotsky’s new book, The Roots of Low Achievement: Where to Begin Altering Them, is certain to arouse education establishment ire.

For example:

  • Starting in the 1970s and continuing here and there today, self-esteem has been identified as a key to academic improvement, especially for poor and minority students. Stotsky’s judgment is, “Not only did the ideas of self-esteem advocates not work, but also they left educational and cultural debris for others to clean up.”
  • Educational theorists never stop inventing new concepts and imagining new methods such as “deeper learning,” which encourages students toward critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration with peers, and self-directed tasks. Stotsky comments on this approach, “Presently, ‘deeper learning’ is a frequent goal used by curriculum supervisors to justify teaching less content.” …

… The Roots of Low Achievement surveys the condition of public schooling in the U.S. It’s a handy digest of what’s gone wrong and why. In ten crisp chapters, Stotsky emphasizes facts that educators, funders, and politicians prefer to ignore. Those of us who want to see an academic renewal in America cannot ignore them.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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