50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David C. Berliner, Gene Glass, and Associates

Scaling Programs, Zero-Tolerance, Preschool Benefits

  • You would think that a successful program could be easily transferred from one school or district to another. This is not generally the case. The authors see the varying context from one school to another as the main reason. Different humans, interactions, social settings, resources, and implementations are some of what can get in the way. Teachers are also good at not properly implementing a new program if they see it being forced on them or disagree with it philosophically.
  • The zero-tolerance chapter starts with several examples of students being severely punished for minor offenses of school policy. This is another remnant of the Clinton administration and has proven to be wrong-headed, ineffective, and detrimental. Schools are much safer than homes as shown by one statistic than states only 0.05% of child deaths occur at school. Suspensions and expulsions cause students to fall behind and eventually drop out. It has routed many more students into the juvenile justice system, which makes them much more likely to end up in prison. It also impacts black much more than whites. Fortunately, schools are realizing that zero-tolerance policies have not lived up to their promise.
  • There is a common but misleading argument that gains made in preschool and kindergarten don’t last so we should therefore not fund them. The authors cite abundant research that disproves this. They also point out that the wealthy invariably send their kids to preschools and kindergartens. Poor kids who attend preschool are more likely to go to college and less likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to be employed and pay taxes that support these programs. It’s common sense that when young children get attention, instruction, and affection from a caring adult, benefits will be found.

Character Education, Bullying, Dumber Education

  • It seems to be a myth that character education as it is currently delivered can make a significant difference in how children behave. Unfortunately, there is no evidence supporting this. Although character is something children learn, it is not easily taught. This is due in large part to the fact that children spend most of their time at home, in their neighborhood, on the street, and in undesirable places. School character education programs seem to offer pseudo-solutions while the real causes go unchecked.
  • Some think that bullying is simply part of growing up, sort of a childhood rite of passage. The authors strongly disagree and see it as detrimental of academic, physical, social, and emotional development. It harms bullies, victims, and bystanders alike. Too few schools have taken active stands and adopted a comprehensive anti-bullying program. At the heart is better supervision. Bullying thrives where adults are not present or not observant. Adequate supervision including student technology use is pertinent to solving this problem. (Doug: As principal I focused on quality supervision and had very little bullying.)
  • If you look at SAT/ACT and NAEP results, you would conclude that students are doing at least as well if not better now than in previous years. Ironically, efforts to deal with this myth by using Common Core’s homogeneous curricula and state testing may indeed be dumbing education down by narrowing the curriculum and diverting attention from science, social studies, physical education, and the arts to test prep for English and math.
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One Response to “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David C. Berliner, Gene Glass, and Associates”

  1. […] These aren’t easy problems to solve. But we need to think about how to tackle them now. Otherwise, our children’s standard of schooling will be rapidly sliding downhill. […]

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