In condemning educational romanticism, Charles Murray advocates defeatism, writes Liam Julian in The Weekly Standard. Murray attacks the idea that all children can achieve proficiency and a college degree. Julian agrees with that, but not with Murray’s belief that below-average students wouldn’t learn more in better schools.
Just because 50 percent of children will always be below average, it does not follow that the average itself cannot be shifted — that what it means to be “average” cannot be substantially improved. And it does not follow that a lot of students in dismal, depressing, decaying public schools could not be learning a lot more than they currently are.
A third of students don’t earn a high school diploma. It’s not romantic to think that most could master the high school curriculum if taught well from kindergarten on. College? Maybe not. But they need enough education to be self-sufficient adults.