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Teachers College Press
50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America's Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education

50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America's Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education

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This book is guaranteed to spark lively debates and critical thinking in any classroom! Two of the most respected voices in education identify 50 myths and lies that threaten America's public schools. Berliner and Glass argue that many citizens' conception of K—12 public education in the United States is more myth than reality. Warped opinions about our nation's public schools include: they are inferior to private schools; they are among the worst in the world in math and science; teachers should be fired if their students don't score at the national average, and on and on. With more than a little humor, Berliner and Glass separate fact from fiction in this comprehensive look at modern education reform. They explain how the mythical failure of public education has been created and perpetuated in large part by political and economic interests who stand to gain from its destruction. They expose a rapidly expanding variety of organizations and media that intentionally misrepresent facts. Where appropriate, they name the promoters of the hoax and point out how their interests are served by encouraging false beliefs. Their method of debunking these falsehoods is to argue against their logic, criticize the data supporting them, and present more credible contradictory data. This dynamic book features short essays on important topics to provide every teacher, administrator, school board member, and concerned parent with reliable knowledge from authoritative sources.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807755242
Publisher: Teachers College Press
Publication date: 03/22/2014
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 273,772
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

I Myths, Hoaxes, and Outright Lies 1

II Myths and Lies About Who's Best: Charters, Privates, Maybe Finland? 10

1 International tests show that the United States has a second-rate education system 12

2 Private schools are better than public schools 18

3 Charter schools are better than traditional public schools 22

4 Charter schools are private schools 27

5 Cyberschools are an efficient, cost-saving, and highly effective means of delivering education 31

6 Home schooled children are better educated than those who attend regular public schools 36

7 School choice and competition work to improve all schools. Vouchers, tuition tax credits, and charter schools inject competition into the education system and "raise all boats." 41

8 Want to find the best high schools in America? Ask Newsweek or U.S. News 46

III Myths and Lies About Teachers and the Teaching Profession: Teachers Are "Everything," That's Why We Blame Them and Their Unions 49

9 Teachers are the most important influence in a child's education 50

10 Teachers in the United States are well-paid 54

11 Merit pay is a good way to increase the performance of teachers. Teachers should be evaluated on the basis of the performance of their students. Rewarding and punishing schools for the performance of their students will improve our nation's schools 58

12 Teachers in schools that serve the poor are not very talented 64

13 Teach For America teachers are well trained, highly qualified, and get amazing results 67

14 Subject matter knowledge is the most important asset a teacher can possess 74

15 Teachers' unions are responsible for much poor school performance. Incompetent teachers cannot be fired if they have tenure 78

16 Judging teacher education programs by means of the scores that their teachers' students get on state tests is a good way to judge the quality of the teacher education program 82

IV Myths and Lies About How to Make Our Nation's Schools Better 87

17 Class size does not matter; reducing class sizes will not result in more learning 89

18 Retaining children in grade-"flunking" them-helps struggling students catch up and promotes better classroom instruction for all 93

19 Tracking, or separating slow and fast learners, is an efficient and productive way to organize teaching. Gifted classes and special schools for our most talented students benefit both individuals and society 99

20 Immersion programs ("sink or swim") for English language learners are better than bilingual education programs 103

21 Preserving heritage language among English language learners is bad for them 106

22 Abstinence-only educational programs work to reduce sexual contact and unwanted pregnancies among school children 110

23 Homework boosts achievement 113

24 Group projects waste children's time and punish the most talented 118

25 School uniforms improve achievement and attendance 121

26 Longer school days and weeks have big payoffs for achievement 125

27 If a program works well in one school or district, it should be imported and expected to work well elsewhere 129

28 Zero-tolerance policies are making schools safer 132

29 The benefits of preschool and kindergarten programs are not convincing and thus not worth the investment 138

30 Character education will save America's youth and strengthen the nation's moral fiber 146

31 Bullying is inevitable; it's just kids. It's a rite of passage. The national effort to eliminate bullying is effectively addressing the problem in our schools 150

32 American K-12 education is being dumbed down 152

33 Mayoral control of public schools has paid off in terms of student achievement 157

34 Forced integration has failed 164

V Myths and Lies About How Our Nation's Schools Are Paid For: All Schools Are Equal, but Some Are More Equal Than Others 170

35 Money doesn't matter! We're spending more money than ever, but test scores are stagnant 171

36 The money available to school districts is spread equally across their schools 175

37 In America, public money is not used to support religious schools 179

38 Education benefits children individually, not the public in general; so supporting education for all past a minimal level-8th grade or 12th grade, say-is hardly justifiable 183

39 Tuition tax credits for families that choose private schools are appropriate, since they are spending their own money to educate their children 188

40 Tuition tax credits and education savings accounts are helping many poor children escape failing public schools and enroll in excellent private schools 190

41 Portfolio management models of schooling will increase district performance 193

VI Myths and Lies About Making All Students Career and College Ready 199

42 All kids can learn. Schools can teach all students to the point of mastery 201

43 Our nation's economy is suffering because our education system is not producing enough scientists, engineers, and mathematicians 203

44 The United States has had to create special passport guidelines to import scientists and engineers because our education system cannot produce enough of them 215

45 High school exit exams guarantee that our graduates will be "college ready" and prepared to succeed as workers in a global economy 219

46 Advanced placement (AP) courses are providing minority students an opportunity to get a head start on a college education 222

47 College admissions are based on students' achievement in grades K-12 and their SAT or ACT scores 225

48 Education will lift the poor out of poverty and materially enrich our entire nation 228

49 IQ tests predict success in life. That's why schools use them to form ability groups and pick students for gifted or special-needs tracks 233

50 The schools are wasting their time trying to teach problem solving, creativity, and general thinking skills; they would be better off teaching the facts students need to succeed in school and later in life 238

Additional Sources 242

Acknowledgments 244

About the Authors 245

Index 250

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