What Glenn gets wrong – Ed Reform and progress (3 of 4)

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I remember a rally in front of the State House when my daughter Teruha was only one or two. I lived on Beacon Hill back then, in a five-floor walkup. My legs were stronger, as were Ritsuko’s. Teruha was a champ and at that age would sleep on tables whenever we went out to eat, which was too often because I love to eat out, especially in the summer.

It was hot out — I think it was June. My calm lass in my arms, I was headed to the Commons to play with a ball. But the open area was crowded with protesters, and the tract of Charles Street between the Public Garden and the Commons was lined with dozens of school buses. Hundreds of teachers chanted “Ask A Teacher,” part of an expensive ad campaign and lobbying blitz.

Juggling kid and ball in my arms (I promise, T, I wasn’t using you as a shield!), I walked into the middle as Robert Kennedy (Jr) was yapping about how we had the best education system in the country and the world. On the world he was wrong. And he was wrong about being the best system in the country. As was Glenn Koocher, in his letter to the Globe editor yesterday, where he obfuscates the progress we’ve made, stating:

Massachusetts’ public schools have been among the nation’s highest performers before education reform and now.

If you don’t believe me, look at these National Assessment of Educational Progress summaries from the Institute for Educational Studies within the U.S. Dep’t of Ed.

  • MA vs. other states generally in 1996: here. We are certainly not tops in the country.
  • MA vs. other states in terms of percentiles on 8th grade math (1996 vs. 2005), or on 8th grade reading and writing tests (in both cases 1998 vs. 2005): here. In all cases, there has been improvement, and we are at the top or very near to the top.

Education reform has led to improvements on all national assessments and to an uptick to the point where we are recognized on the basis of data to be the best in the country. We have a long way to go to get the cities to catch up — and we are not where we need to be internationally.

Education Reform has brought progress. Glenn, as the saying goes, break it, and you own it.