by Max Brantley
The push for education "reform" depends on your belief in the steady erosion of the quality of American education.
What if that belief is a myth?
Read this. The U.S. has been mediocre, judged against other countries, for better than four decades. We've actually made a few gains in recent years. But what of those who claim educational attainment has been in freefall.
[Tom] Loveless [of the Brookings Institute] says no. "There was no sharp decline—in either the short or long run," he says. "The U.S. performance on PISA has been flat to slightly up since the test's inception, and it has improved on TIMSS [the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, another major series of tests] since 1995."
This is not exactly good news, but context is important. If we have managed to be the world's most powerful country, politically, economically and militarily, for the last 47 years despite our less than impressive math and science scores, maybe that flaw is not as important as film documentaries and political party platforms claim. And if, after so many decades of being shown up by much of the rest of the developed world, we are improving, it might be time to be more supportive of what we already doing to fix our schools.