Why are there so many assumptions masquerading as fact in education? (And why do the “facts” keep changing?)

One of the problems with education is that there are many assumptions passing as fact. Those assumptions are often based on what seems to be common sense.

For example, most of us would assume that smaller classes would lead to higher achievement, yet there’s scant evidence that smaller classes or smaller schools make that much difference for the average student. (They do seem to help low-income students in the early grades.)

Consider the assumptions around block scheduling. The belief was that teachers in block schools would approach 90-minute classes much differently than they had 55 minute classes; they would provide several hands-on activities for their students. But, in fact, teachers taught much the same way despite the longer class periods, meaning that students on block schedules actually lost out because they got nothing more in 90 minutes than their peers received in standard classes.

The New York Times has an interesting column about other assumptions embraced as fact, such as children needing a dedicated and quiet space for homework and students bringing unique learning styles to the classroom.

The column also notes that testing serves a very good purpose that is often ignored in today’s emotional debates about testing — tests reinforce learning. While there’s frequent condemnation of testing on this blog, I interviewed someone a few weeks ago who said that it was standardized testing that first suggested to him that he was smart and could be a good student. Until he saw his test scores — which placed him well above average in intelligence — he never considered the possibility that he could excel in school and go to college. He went on to get a doctorate and credits testing with his awakening to his own potential.

According to the Times:

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

Ditto for teaching styles, researchers say. Some excellent instructors caper in front of the blackboard like summer-theater Falstaffs; others are reserved to the point of shyness. “We have yet to identify the common threads between teachers who create a constructive learning atmosphere,” said Daniel T. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of the book “Why Don’t Students Like School?”

But individual learning is another matter, and psychologists have discovered that some of the most hallowed advice on study habits is flat wrong. For instance, many study skills courses insist that students find a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library, to take their work. The research finds just the opposite. In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.

The brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time, the authors say, regardless of whether those perceptions are conscious. It colors the terms of the Versailles Treaty with the wasted fluorescent glow of the dorm study room, say; or the elements of the Marshall Plan with the jade-curtain shade of the willow tree in the backyard. Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material may, in effect, give that information more neural scaffolding.

“What we think is happening here is that, when the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting,” said Dr. Bjork, the senior author of the two-room experiment.

Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time. Musicians have known this for years, and their practice sessions often include a mix of scales, musical pieces and rhythmic work. Many athletes, too, routinely mix their workouts with strength, speed and skill drills.

79 comments Add your comment

bootney farnsworth

September 7th, 2010
2:46 am

the answer is simple. education is way over politicized.
since the 60s society has been at the whim of the trend of the moment.
education is no different.

trying new ideas is fine, but since the 60s almost none of them have been allowed to fail in anything resembling a natural lifespan

can you say CRCT? I know you can.

all this does is confirm what the Montessori folks have said for years -different people learn in different ways

Concerned 1

September 7th, 2010
3:04 am

Perhaps parents will make note of this and help students to study better at home. Standardized testing has been around for scores of years. Standardized pretesting of students has not. The most flawed research on earth starts with the assumption that every student starts at the same point with a level playing field. How absurd!

Teachers are not asking for the abolishment of standardized testing. They are asking that test results be used in a fair manner. This will probably never come to pass. The teaching profession has been infiltrated by nonprofessionals who have not studied the craft. It is being reshaped by those with political agendas and/or investments in testing companies. It would be interesting to see how much research is supported by test manufacturer and others who would benefit from the continued persecution of well educated classroom teachers.

Testing is what it is. The teaching “profession” as such no longer exists. According to the so called “experts, anyone off the streets can teach. Put a script in front of them, show them a few tapes and away they go.

As far as class size goes, any kindegarten teacher can tell you that they can control smaller classes much better and give more individualized attention to students no matter what they’re income level. We talk to each other all across this country and really don’t have to study others research that depends on sampling, and questionnaires. Even if they controlled for variables, how do we know? Half the time the research is from somebody trying to get a grant or their PhD. We know what we observe to be true in our classrooms each and every day.

One other thing, block scheduling is ridiculous. Students who are on a 4×8 fare the worst. At the end of a semester, they still have 8 exams. On weekends, they still have to study for 8 classes. Administrators, stop trying to make us give them passing grades when they are failing. You know this schedule does not help the average student; it just helps football and basketball players. They can fail 3 classes and still play. Even in college, a full load for a semester is no more than 4 or 5 classes per semester; poor AP students. They have 3 or 4 AP classes and still have 4 additional classes.

American education is so tied up on political agendas that only those who can afford private school can avoid most of this nonsense. Solution: let teachers teach their classes using their own teaching style to reach their students. Have standardized pretesting for each class that carries a standardized end test. Make sure that students with varying abilities are not clomped by abilities into each teacher’s class. It is not fair to give older teachers all classes with low performing students. Neither is it fair to give all first year teachers all classes with higher performing students.
Give them both a combination. Stop trying to coddle first year teachers. Recruit people who have staying power and those who really want to teach. Have mandatory monthly meetings between teachers and the legal guardians/parents of their students. Have principals and assistant principals who are disciplinarians and have lead teachers in their respective disciplines observe teachers. Also have teachers observe each other and offer feedback.

This of course will never happen. But, thanks for letting me air my opinion. The first amendment is great.

Concerned 1

September 7th, 2010
3:13 am

Couple of grammaticals in there, sorry. Can’t sleep…have to go back to teaching at my school in APS tomorrow. I have been up all night trying to figure out how to reach the kids in one of my classes. Tried several different ways to help them master these standards with little success. Yes, that is what we old teachers do. We try to help them learn.

seen it all

September 7th, 2010
5:18 am

That is one great point- American education is too politicized. Also too many people think they know everything. They think that their idea is the be-all, do-all solution that will change everything, make everything perfect. That is not the case.


September 7th, 2010
6:06 am

It’s about the time that we just crush this “learning style” non-sense.

Anyway, I think another assumption is that research, educational or psychological, actually call tell what’s right/wrong about education.


September 7th, 2010
6:30 am

My favorite line from the Times story: “Yet there are effective approaches to learning, at least for those who are motivated.”

Ellen Harrison

September 7th, 2010
6:37 am

I read that Howard Gardner didn’t intend for his research to be applied as it has been in mass-produced, scripted methods authored and redelivered at so many conferences across the country. Our brains grow smarter and more intelligent because of interconnectedness, neural bridges built by a culmination of experiences. Can that be measured on standardized tests?
No, every child is unique. Yes, this process has been politicized and pink-collared practitioners are bulldozed by egos under the gold dome. Concerned 1, hang in there. Must go gather the papers and gird the loins for another day in the cauldron!

Private School Guy

September 7th, 2010
6:45 am

I think that there are so many former educators that now pride them selves as experts( they no doubt hated teaching to begin with) who offer new schemes for success on a regular basis. Struggling teachers and administrators grasp at anything that might make things better. The scientific method behind all these schemes is never brought up. The brain based fad of ten years ago is a perfect example. Among it’s claims were children were not learning because of a lack of stimulating scents and bright lighting. So teachers started burning candles to increase learning. Gimme a break and call the fire marshall.


September 7th, 2010
6:52 am

I guest lecture @ an Atlanta University..I often include how extremely intelligent the ” Baby Boomer…” truly are truly. On the other side of the coin this country has produced baby boomers that are some of the worst, most dumb, butt stupid people that ever called themselves Americans. If you can not read this you have proven my point.

New School

September 7th, 2010
7:10 am

Great points. The system needs to be examined from top to bottom. Continually finding new ways to throw money at the issues doesn’t seem to work well. Who knew?

Attentive Parent

September 7th, 2010
7:22 am

Douglas Carnine wrote a great piece about this about 10 years ago- “Why Education Experts Resist Effective Practices (And What It Would Take To Make Education More Like Medicine)” that is well worth the time.


He points out how the AERA former president explained their open disdain for experimental research of the type common in science.

Apparently years ago Diane Ravitch had a pulmonary embolism and Carnine quotes a caricature she did on what would have happened if doctors had reacted to her in the way recommended by ed “experts”.

What if

September 7th, 2010
7:26 am

Yes Maureen – testing CAN be useful, but it, and block scheduling, and middle schools, etc. etc. etc. are just like guns. In the right hands, with the right intent, they can do good. But testing these days IS just like guns – WAY too many of ‘em in hands that have no remote clue how to use them properly. And like “Saturday night specials,” not enough money or time or expertise to build them decently. ‘Course, that problem – at least for testing – would be solved by building (many) fewer (much) better.

Attentive Parent

September 7th, 2010
7:32 am

The Ravitch quote is on pages 9-10.

The piece also has an excellent overview of Project Follow-Through for anyone not familiar with it and wanting more info.

Carnine details with specifics widespread adoption and acceptance of untested innovations in education, embrace even when there is contradictory evidence, and refusal to embrace approaches where the evidence has been vetted and is overwhelmingly positive.

[...] One of the problems with education is that there are many assumptions passing as fact Read more: Why are there so many assumptions masquerading as fact in education? (And why … – Atlanta Journal … Tagged as: atlanta-journal, education, journal, passing-as-fact, problems, squerading-as-fact, [...]


September 7th, 2010
7:42 am

I believe this study confirms what a statistician friend said years ago: the study will reveal whatever the person paying for the study wants it to reveal.


September 7th, 2010
8:06 am

The problem, as I see it, is that somewhere along the way, education became big business AND highly politicized.

The politics is easy. Brown vs Board officially wrested control away from the locals and handed it to the Feds on a silver platter. Ill advised legislation such as IDEA and NCLB is the result.

The business aspect is harder to pinpoint. Let’s face it, too many people are making a lot of money from education. From the book publishers, to the college Schools of Education, to the alphabet soup of “think tanks” and avocacy groups, to the bloated bureaucracies of the educrats, too many people have a vested interest in promoting their agenda.

And in the end, it is the student who is shortchanged.


September 7th, 2010
8:14 am

As a former teacher, yet current educator, the determining factor for student success is a student’s motivation. You can have a great school, great teacher, and great parents; however, if the child is not self-motivated, nothing will happen.


September 7th, 2010
8:17 am

the point of brown vs board of education was to wrestle the injustice of “separate, but equal” from the hands of locals who wanted to maintain segregation, discrimination, and racism… not to hand education to the feds on a silver platter. districts continue to maintain control of their districts by establishing policy that merely adhere to federal and state standards. please be careful making a connection like that. someone might believe you.


September 7th, 2010
8:33 am


But it did hand education to the feds on a silver platter. As usual, good intentions have bad consequences. Especially dealing with government control. If you do not see how government control has hampered education to support that one minority, then you must have been indoctrinated by your college professors.


September 7th, 2010
8:39 am

The point of Brown vs Board was not education but to force minorities into white schools. Several action by the racist NACCP stopped at nothing to acquire it. If that is not true then why do we have all black schools but it is illegal to have an all white school? The 14th ammendment guaranteed equal protection not equal participation. The minority schools could have seen their schools be as well fitted as other schools. But no, that was not the agenda.


September 7th, 2010
8:50 am

“The politics is easy. Brown vs Board officially wrested control away from the locals and handed it to the Feds on a silver platter.”

@Lee, would you rather legal segregation continue based solely on race? And how does this have any bearing on this article?

“all this does is confirm what the Montessori folks have said for years -different people learn in different ways.”

@Bootney, I agree 100%. Everyone does not learn the same way. It’s important to understand that and try to reach all children.

“Musicians have known this for years, and their practice sessions often include a mix of scales, musical pieces and rhythmic work.”

Well Hallelujah! This is exactly what every chorus rehearsal I teach looks like. And to think that more and more school systems are ending music programs. Perhaps this is why our students tend to score higher on standardized tests.

Maureen Downey

September 7th, 2010
8:58 am

@Attentive Parent, After reading the piece, not sure we have had our Titanic or Great Depression moment in education yet. I also disagree with Carnine’s confidence that the public respects and wants quantifiable data. I have found that many people make judgments on education based on their own experiences with schooling. If they liked their education, they want their own children’s to look and feel the same way. If they hated school, they want their children to have a different setting.

V for Vendetta

September 7th, 2010
9:05 am

Sheesh. How does everything become race-based on this blog? (I’m not saying I disagree; just try starting a TV channel called WET and see how long that lasts!)

Anyway, Bootney hit the nail on the head from the beginning. Education is highly politicized, and rightly so, because of its socialist framework. It can never be divorced from the political ramblings of our two great socialist parties (oh stop pretending like the Neo-Cons are anything but Dems in Drag) unless it is somehow removed from the rapidly expanding government umbrella. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Privatizing education is certainly the direction in which I’d like to see it go, but funding will inevitably be a problem. Why? Because there are too many people in this country who pay very little in the way of taxes . . . but EXPECT a lot in return. They would be unlikely to pick up the tab of education on their own. Not that I care, but it is horribly unfair to their children who will never get a fair shot.

Perhaps paying into the government coffers could be optional in regards to education so that the option still exists–though it would be understandably compromised.

I think, with heavy reform, the government model COULD work, but I don’t believe that the Dems and the wannabe Dems will ever be able to make the substantial change necessary to secure a world-class education for America’s kids. Some of the changes might be unpopular, which could hurt the chance for reelection . . . (sigh)

In the end, will we keep electing the same two political parties to power? Will we ignore the fact that they care more about career politics than they do any of the issues at hand? Or will we somehow send a message at the polls that Americans are ready for something different, something more in line with the ideals of the Founding Father, something more . . . AMERICAN.

My guess is no. Come fall, expect more of the same. It’s a shame, really.

V for Vendetta

September 7th, 2010
9:10 am

I meant “Founding FatherS.” I just wanted to clear that up lest any religious folks out there think I meant god–which would make no sense at all.

What's Best for Kids?

September 7th, 2010
9:21 am

Okay, so class sizes don’t matter, but individual attention to each student does. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in order to meet the individual needs of each student and his or her learning style, class sizes do matter.

Georgian By Birth

September 7th, 2010
9:49 am


September 7th, 2010
8:17 am
the point of brown vs board of education was to wrestle the injustice of “separate, but equal” from the hands of locals who wanted to maintain segregation, discrimination, and racism…

How’s that working out for you WAR? From my vantage point, that seems to be what’s wrong with our educational system today. Take the APS (I’d rather it would just go away) for example…..all of the problems in that system are caused by one demographic and it’s causing the whole system to crumble. Let’s face it…..Brown v Board of Education is a dismal failure because blacks looked at it as a way to gain power instead of a means to elevate their educational standards……and folks, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you have to admit “that’s the way it’s being played out”.

Attentive Parent

September 7th, 2010
9:53 am

Maureen-Agree wholeheartedly with the idea that too many personalize from their own experiences. The idea that as long as the child is getting good grades that’s all that matters or is deemed “proficient” on a state test even though the cut scores have been managed so that they in fact missed more questions than they got correct.

That Gene Glass quote Carnine uses does reflect an alarming mindset among decisionmakers.

How many politicians understand to be wary of the phrase “research shows” when it comes to education. The correct response before spending our tax dollars should be “show me the study first”.

Don’t you think Ravitch’s monologue really nailed some of the very comments we have seen posted here from time to time? Nothing like ICU to crystallize what type of evidence is really needed.

john konop

September 7th, 2010
9:55 am

Lee is right most of the studies I have read are more like a marketing study done to sell a product and would not pass any real test among people who understand research methods. As I said years ago Kathy Cox would end up being a high paid lobbyist pushing policy for cash over what is best for students.

…..The business aspect is harder to pinpoint. Let’s face it, too many people are making a lot of money from education. From the book publishers, to the college Schools of Education, to the alphabet soup of “think tanks” and avocacy groups, to the bloated bureaucracies of the educrats, too many people have a vested interest in promoting their agenda.
And in the end, it is the student who is shortchanged.
The business aspect is harder to pinpoint. Let’s face it, too many people are making a lot of money from education. From the book publishers, to the college Schools of Education, to the alphabet soup of “think tanks” and avocacy groups, to the bloated bureaucracies of the educrats, too many people have a vested interest in promoting their agenda.

And in the end, it is the student who is shortchanged……

Maureen Downey

September 7th, 2010
10:00 am

@Attentive Parent, Her satire was very clever, but she neglected to mention that some educators/doctors would have also called for amputation.


September 7th, 2010
10:14 am

Like I ve stated so many times before…

“Those that can, DO.
Those that cant, TEACH.”

PS…and Beverly “Sweat-hog” Hall isnt helping.


September 7th, 2010
10:29 am

@WAR & RJ: we can debate the merits of Brown vs Board all day long. However, one thing is very clear to me, after that ruling, the balance of power shifted dramatically from the locals to the Feds. The Feds basically used school children as pawns to promote their social agenda.

If not for Brown, could Jimmy Carter establish the Department of Education? Could Congress have passed the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)? Maybe, maybe not.


September 7th, 2010
11:21 am

Clearly a smaller class enables more 1 on 1 time with the teachers
The problem is a lack of good teachers, and that problem isn’t due to pay or colleges or working conditions, in order to have a student teacher ratio of 20-1 you would have to reach too far down the ladder from A rated teachers tp D rated teachers, ergo it is better to have a good teacher with 30 kids then a bad teacher with 20. It also once again points to the fact that responsibility for education is a family issue


September 7th, 2010
11:22 am

Try reading the Newsweek article at
Says a lot about the politicizing of education.

Old Physics Teacher

September 7th, 2010
11:35 am

Dr NO,

That’s not entirely accurate. The ending is: those that can’t teach, teach TEACHERS. Most of the problem comes from the colleges of education who turn out mass-produced people who think they’re teachers. There’s a reason for most quitting in their first 5 years.


September 7th, 2010
11:52 am

So many of our “facts” are based on seriously flawed “research.” Look and see who is sponsoring the research, look at even the social affiliations of the researchers, look at the design of the study, including how the questions are worded or the data collected. Look at the sample chosen (some on this blog want to generalize from a sample of one!) and HOW the data is analyzed. Unfortunately, most people, educated or not, find research that shows what they want it to show, and go with that. The examples are profound, and unending.

Look for the assumptions on which the study is done (ie, children learn differently because of their school environment) and look at the limitations for the study. These limitations should be explicitly stated, but be aware that there can be others.

Many of us remember when all the heart disease research was done on MEN, disregarding the fact that half the population was being excluded off the bat! Later, we found that women tend to experience a heart attack differently. That hasn’t been very long ago!

muscogee co.

September 7th, 2010
11:56 am

another problem is technology, computers/calculators, et al were supposed to be the saviors of education, the kids rely on their machines way too much and many can’t even mulitply simple numbers like 5 x 4 without help.


September 7th, 2010
12:03 pm

V, have you read the founding fathers’ words? Have you read the Georgia constitution that they produced? Most all of them agreed on little, but they did agree that publicly-funded schools were essential to the preservation of the Republic they created. To say otherwise and to call public education socialist is nonsense. You need to read some history before you have folks believing another assumption about the past that is completely false.


September 7th, 2010
12:09 pm

Being a parent of two teenage children in the public school system and a spouse of a public school teacher, here is my list of recommended changes.

1) Stop holding back the high achieving students. Create an environment that allows them to thrive rather than bore them to tears.
2) Foster parental involvement. Stop pushing parents away. Have them actively engaged in the education process.
3) School systems need to stand up and promote what works rather than promoting what is less likely to have them sued.
4) Mainstreaming may be of benefit for some of the kids, but it is a major distraction to the other kids.
5) All kids do not need to attend college. You can make a damn fine living as an electrician or plumber.


September 7th, 2010
12:16 pm

I’m with Jacket88. I would also add.. 6) Stop changing the game every single year in some insane attempt to be on the “cutting edge” at all possible moments. Just let teachers teach and parents parent for a change. Kids and families do better with consistency. Administrators, unfortunately, do better with constant change because it makes their resumes look better. Unfortunately, the resumes usually win out and kids lose.

Warrior Woman

September 7th, 2010
12:22 pm

@ Concerned 1 – I’m with you on pretesting. Hiowever, many teachers on this blog HAVE called for abolishing standardized tests.

Ability grouping can be effective because it allows teachers to target their classes’ level. Otherwise, you’re either dumbing the material down below the level of the high ability students or you’re starting at too high a level for the low ability students.

@Attentive Parent – The current Cobb calendar is a prime example of adoption and acceptance of an untested “innovation” in education that has been embraced in the face of contradictory evidence.

@Maureen – Any evidence to support your assertion that the publice does NOT want or respect quantifiable data?

former teacher

September 7th, 2010
12:29 pm

I am a former elementary teacher and am now an academic coach. I agree with many points made in the article. First, standardized or criterion-referenced testing serves many purposes. It shows where student or teacher weaknesses are. Teachers are also more apt to teach standards that are tested. We teach what is tested. Smaller classrooms won’t make any difference if the teacher hasn’t got good organizational or classroom management skills. You can’t teach five children if you can’t get it together. But I think the largest factor in student achievement is how prepared a child is when he/she comes to school. And that’s the frightening part – parents must spend time talking and reading to their children when they’re way too young for school.

HS Teacher, Too

September 7th, 2010
12:44 pm

@Maureen – You also need to be careful about how you present your ‘facts.’

For example, you mention the 90 minute block schedule and how teachers use that time. The IDEA is that 90 minutes do allow teachers to utilize that time for more indept lessons. Yes, the research may show that most teachers do not change how they teach, BUT just because those teachers chose not to utilize the time properly doesn’t mean that it is a bad idea.

As a science teacher in high school, a 90 minute period made a huge difference. We were able to complete labs without rushing and also were able to discuss the results with real connections to the content. Most of this just isn’t possible in only 50 or 55 minutes. And, to try to split a lab into two parts really does lose some momentum of learning.

My point is – ‘facts’ can be used to justify most any position. Most people can tell when that position is on the ‘good’ side or ‘bad’ side, but sometimes people really try to make it fuzzy.


September 7th, 2010
12:45 pm

@Ezra, do you really believe that it is illegal to have an “all-white” school or are you just venting? Very few school systems even have M to M programs anymore due to the cost. There are plenty of all-white schools throughout this country. And for the record, the Black schools were subpar and at that time they wanted an equal shot of getting a good education. They were provided that shot in the white schools. We have a long way to go in this country when these types of comments are continously being made. And for the record, its the NAACP, not NACCP. Again, providing false information just to make yourself feel good.


September 7th, 2010
12:45 pm

Too many bureaucrats have spoiled education. As a special education teacher for 20 years, I have labored under IDEA in many different forms. I know all about learning styles, and “teaching the test”, but unless the student has a glimmer of motivation, they are not going to learn no matter how it is sliced and diced and presented to them.
Old Physics Teacher, The saying goes: Those that can teach, do; those that can’t, administrate.
I have a real problem with administrators that are more concerned with whether the standards are written on the board, than they are with the students.

Teacher Reader

September 7th, 2010
12:47 pm

Having taught successfully in the depths of the inner city for many years, a good teacher can over come a child’s unpreparedness for school. Good teachers ability group students within their classrooms and tailor the education that they give their students according to their needs. I did this when I had 38+ in my inner city classroom or 20 when I taught in DCSS. Yes, this required more work on my part, as not everyone had the same homework, but it helped each child grow and have his/her needs met.

To me education right now is about making a parent feel good about their children. Our CRCT tests mean nothing, as earning a proficient on the test can mean that a child has gotten half of the test questions wrong. Is this really showing proficiency? Giving students multiple times to complete work correctly instead of having them follow the directions the first time, is another example of how education fails it’s children.

We want the children and parents to feel good, but have done so at the cost of teaching children how to work hard and earn what they receive. We lower the amount of work that struggling students receive instead of figuring out where a child is struggling and strengthening that area. We want the child to feel good, but does the child really feel good? Is the child really proud of him/herself? What have we really taught the child?

V for Vendetta

September 7th, 2010
1:12 pm


I aware of the Founding Fathers’ stances on education. And, for the record, education is funded through taxes; therefore, it IS socialist. In fact, I would go so far to say that as long as some segments of the population are paying less than others, it is heavily socialist.

Perhaps you didn’t read the rest of my post in which I suggested that public education could work if the two-party system was ignored or went away.


September 7th, 2010
1:18 pm

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

John Taylor Gatto

September 7th, 2010
1:20 pm

You beat me to the punch V. Let’s do a quick review. Everyone is forced to pay for education whether you benefit or not. You pay based on the value of your property as determined by the state. You have no choice (yes, even if you rent, you are paying indirectly through your landlord). So we have from each according to his/her ability (as determined by the state). Then no matter how many kids you have, they can all get “educated” for the tiny amount you pay in taxes (and there are probably some great statistics that would show that the more kids you have the less you pay in property taxes). So here you have to each according to his/her need.

I don’t think you can get more socialist.

If you really want to explore the myths and history of government run education, check out this web site:


Attentive Parent

September 7th, 2010
1:30 pm

There’s a wonderful federal study called “Using Research and Reason in Education:How Teachers can Use Scientifically Based Research to Make Curricular Instructional Decisions” from Paula and Keith Stanovich. It lays out the various types of research and what is strong and what is merely someone’s personal opinion. It’s still available from the National Institute for Literacy.

It gives 2 examples of reading hypotheses that were widely believed until empirical research proved them wrong:

1) reading difficulties are caused by faulty eye movements, and

2) visual reversal errors are a major cause of reading difficulty.

Does the information get dispersed when something is shown to be in error?

So far research is supporting the hypothesis that reading difficulties can be related to language difficulties at the phonological level. Do the ed schools teach that?

Do prof devt courses in reading?

Likewise, the federal govt has a great deal of research in how to best teach math to students with learning disabilties and disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s archived at the Access Center site. Georgia seems to have completely ignored it in dictating that the new math had to be taught through the learning tasks and the Instructional Frameworks’ activity focus.


September 7th, 2010
1:53 pm

Maureen, I cautioned you about this last week when you blasted middle schools using, as far as I can tell, a study that does not exist. Your column was based on an article that appeared in a somewhat suspect JOURNAL, that listed NOTHING about how the study was conducted. It did not tell us about the sample, other than to say they were New York City Schools. It said NOTHING about the socio-economic status in these schools, and the “study” was supposedly conducted by BUSINESS SCHOOL professors or students. It wasn’t peer reviewed as far as I can tell, because the only thing PUBLISHED was the article and NOT the study itself. The article did not contain A BIBLIOGRAPHY nor did it cite ANY SOURCES in the text of the article.

NOW, you quote the NYT as being authoritative on EVERYTHING to do with EDUCATION?!?!? The same NYT that has been caught in MULTIPLE FRAUDULENT STORIES. THE NYT that is the most biased piece of garbage available on news stands today? The NYT that I would not even use to wrap fish guts in for the trash?

I am NOT SAYING whether anything in the “column” (which tells me it is an OPINION PIECE and NOT a “news story”, what ever that means at the NYT these days) is right or wrong. In fact, one of the biggest oxymorons in education is the term “Education Research”. What I AM SAYING is that those of us in the trenches, those of us on the front lines, have learned HOW to read Research. We can look at the methodology and determine whether or not a study has any validity, BUT, the hardest thing for any of us to do is to determine whether or not the AUTHOR of the study held any biases one way or another before studying the topic. It is hard for us to tell whether or not the AUTHOR has anything to gain or lose if a particular method of teaching is adopted or discontinued. Maybe I am just a cynic, but I think that most veteran teachers know what works best for them and NOBODY should be telling ANY OF US HOW to teach as long as we are getting results. Let me and the other teachers in our discipline come up with a pre-test and a post-test for our subjects and hold me accountable FOR THE RESULTS and otherwise, leave me the heck alone.