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Opinion: Public Education is Improving in America

Smiling children in school

Catherine Rampell, an opinion columnist at The Washington Post, shared her views last week about the state of education in the country. Rampell wrote that the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll and the National Assessment of Educational Progress test both provide evidence that students are more, not less, competent than they were decades ago.

It’s a bit like “Fenno’s paradox,” named for political scientist Richard Fenno Jr.: Americans hate Congress but like their own congressman; they hate the public school system but like the school they actually interact with.

Today's companies and hiring managers turn a critical eye toward their incoming entry level employees, but this has been the practice since before the turn of the last century. David C. Berliner, a professor emeritus of education at Arizona State University, said in the article: “The demonization of youth is a national pastime in the U.S.” Well known New York University professor and historian Diane Ravitch's view is the push toward privatization is behind of the the negative evaluations of public schools. Rampell said she believes that attention should be paid to the progress of public schools.

The truth is, today’s young people do need more, or at least different, kinds of training and education to succeed in the global marketplace for talent. And plenty of policy changes — like making the most challenging school districts more attractive places to work — could help improve outcomes for our most disadvantaged students. But in the meantime, let’s stop denying the measurable, if modest, progress that U.S. schools have made in the last half-century.

Read the full opinion piece

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