Education Gadfly links to a liberal debate on No Child Left Behind. In Impotent Liberalism, Andrew Rotherham of the 21st Century Schools Project attacks a series of articles titled Children Left Behind in American Prospect.
For example, Robert Borosage, a leading liberal intellectual, offers the standard disclaimer that money alone is not a reform. Nonetheless Borosage then turns what could be an interesting essay on the enormous challenges public education faces and lack of support for meeting them into a call for basically more of the same, with an emphasis on the importance of the “common school.” Romanticism about common schools in the face of what research shows about the demographics and outcomes of public education is an astounding feat of denial. Moreover it is a misdirection play to divert attention from the horrifying achievement gap that is one of the primary barriers to greater social equity and mobility today. We’re all for more investment in public education, particularly in underserved communities, and would like to see greater support for public schools, too. Yet neither of these challenges should serve as a smokescreen for serious structural problems that result in a system that systematically undereducates minority and poor youngsters.
Rotherham thinks liberals need to get serious about serving students, not the adults in the system.