Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality

According to The 41st Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, 75% of parents gave their local school an A or a B.  But when it came to the nation’s schools as a whole, less than 20% gave a similar high grade. 


Why is there such a difference in perception between “your school” and “the nation’s schools”?  Gerald W. Bracey, a longtime Kappan columnist, explains the reason for the disconnect: 


Americans never hear anything positive about the nation’s schools and haven’t since the years just before Sputnik in 1957, Bracey writes in a commentary in the September 2009 issue of Phi Delta Kappan.  Negative information flows almost daily from media, politicians, and ideologues. During the 2008 presidential campaign, a $50 million project, Ed in 08, inundated Americans with negativity through its web site, TV ads, and YouTube clips.


Our leaders don’t help matters much. “The fact is that we are not just in an economic crisis; we are in an educational crisis,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in February. He’s said it repeatedly.


The President repeats the mantra. “In 8th-grade math, we’ve fallen to ninth place,” Obama said in March. That’s factually true, but those students were still ahead of 36 other nations. More important, when the test was first given in 1995, American 8th graders were in 28th place. They’ve been busy falling up.


On the other hand, parents use other sources and resources for information about their local schools: teachers, administrators, friends, neighbors, newsletters, PTAs, and their kids themselves; and they’re in a much better position to observe what’s actually happening in American schools.


Bracey expands this idea in his new book, Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality (Educational Research Service, 2009).  Here is the description of the book:


Are America‘s schools broken? Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality seeks to address misconceptions about America‘s schools by taking on the credo ‘what can be measured matters.’ To the contrary, Dr. Bracey makes a persuasive case that much of what matters cannot be assessed on a multiple choice test. The challenge for educators is to deal effectively with an incomplete accountability system—while creating a broader understanding of successful schools and teachers. School leaders must work to define, maintain, and increase essential skills that may not be measured in today’s accountability plans.


Is Dr. Bracey saying the glass is half full?  Marvelous!  It’s refreshing to see educators giving the public an objective looking glass from which to view America’s school system.        


5 thoughts on “Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality

    • Education in American produces a mixed bag of results in comparison and contrast of what “should be” versus “what is.” The real problem is not that education in America is so good or so bad. Societal problems, namely the breakdown of the family, is the real problem. This falls back to destruction of our belief in God, the Constitution, and the principles of our founding fathers. Progressives like Ms. Huffington and George Soros, want to destroy our nation’s foundations to build a “better society.” Their ideas are lacking merit, just as that ideal, utopian socialist society never existed and never will exist.

  1. “75% of parents gave their local school an A or a B. But when it came to the nation’s schools as a whole, less than 20% gave a similar high grade. ”

    There’s not necessarily a conflict here. 75% of people may be happy with how their kids are doing. But 80% of people are unhappy about the 25% of kids who are not being served well.

    • How do parents know enough about the nation’s schools to give them a bad grade? The only way is through the media. The conventional wisdom is that America’s schools are failing no matter what the facts are.

  2. Black students graduate three years behind White kids and have a drop-out rate of 53%. If we combine this drop-out rate with the highly conservative estimate that 16% of these students will fail to pass state required exit exams, we arrive at a figure, indicating that only 37% of Black students will receive high school diplomas. Functional illiteracy is one indicator of the demise of a community. A great deal of young adult and juvenile Black male and female offenders are incarcerated within our correctional institutions at alarming rates.

    A large percentage of these offenders are “functionally illiterate”…”If you don’t read, you don’t know and will never find out” (Green). Illiteracy remains that villain which continues to cause so many of the problems of the Black community and problems confronting other minorities! We still have such a long way to go towards eliminating the Black/White acdemic achievement gap “Between the Rhetoric and Reality” of education in America.

    The new book “Between the Rhetoric and Reality” reviews the public school’s failure to educate the Black child and particularly, how the Black child is in need of new teaching models that can provide positive educational experiences. The authors connect these these problems problems plaguing the Black community to society as a whole in order to show that these alarming figures are more than just statistics–they have widespread consequences upon American society! This book will give a new direction to all who are sincere about confronting and overcoming this enormous waste of human potential. ” Between the Rhetoric and Reality” can be previewed on either “Amazon.Com, or Borders.Com”.

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