David S. Kahn offers a whithering condemnation of America's mediocre public education system by laying the responsibility for plummeting SAT scores right where it belongs: on the schools.

People complain that the SAT is biased and that the bias explains why students don't do well. That's true--it is biased. It's biased against people who aren't well-educated. The test isn't causing people to have bad educations, it's merely reflecting the reality. And if you don't like your reflection, that doesn't mean that you should smash the mirror.

That the new SAT tests more reading comprehension than the old test did is a good thing. Colleges complain that their incoming students don't have sufficient skills to read and analyze the kind of material that their professors will assign them. I hope that the new SAT's emphasis will make students realize that you can't get much of an education if you can't read.

Maybe the decline in SAT scores will force people to notice that their children are not getting good educations. If your children don't read or do math, why would you think that they would do well on the SAT? I would love to get into a time machine and go back to 1960 and give this new SAT to high-school students back then. I suspect that they would do much better than today's students. If we want people to get good scores on the SAT, I have a suggestion. Stop complaining about how unfair the test is and do your homework.

I've written before that our society foolishly puts school teachers on a pedestal despite their rather poor results, and I think much of the blame rests with the teachers' unions which utterly refuse to move past seniority-based employment despite the demonstrated benefits of merit pay on teacher performance. We need to eliminate public education or at the very least create some economic pressure for schools and teachers to improve, such as widespread voucher programs.

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