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[Susan notes: Yahoo! As reporters repeat claims of Achieve press releases, we have Jerry Bracey to call them on it, pulling no punches.]

Submitted to New York Times & USA Today but not published
06/10/2004

Dear Ladies





Why do you insist on publishing stuff from Achieve, Inc.? It might be non-profit, as Ms. Schemo states, but it is certainly NOT non-partisan as Ms. Schouten claims. Achieve is the bastard child of Lou Gerstner and his "education summits," the Business Roundtable, and Republican Governors. The major link of the BRT to Achieve is Ed Rust, CEO of State Farm Insurance (for no better reason than his daddy was and his grandaddy was; State Farm is a company that was sued by its own lawyers for forcing them to commit unethical acts. Imagine! Lawyers suing over ethics). Rust, among other things, served on Dubya's education transition team.



When did you ever hear anything positive about schools from Achieve? That alone should make you suspicious.



I am willing to bet that Achieve's sweeping assertion that many countries teach our high school exam subjects in middle school won't hold up. I make that claim not having see the data that lead to the assertion, knowing that these kinds of studies never lead to sweeping assertions. Of, if they do, the assertions turn out to be crocks. "The American math curriculum is a mile wide and an inch deep" was one such, one of the most inane and insane conclusions ever.



Did you actually see that study, Diana Jean? After all, in OECD's Program on International Student Assessment (PISA), American 10th graders were average among 32 nations in reading, math and science. More importantly, only 5 countries had significantly higher scores in reading (8 in math, 7 in science). That is, most countries score close together, which one would expect given that 28 of the 32 countries in the study were OECD nations--that is to say, almost all of them were developed nations.



Back in 1897, social reformer, Jane Addams, wrote, "The business man has, of course, not said to himself, 'I will have the public schools train office boys and clerks for me, so that I may have them cheap,' but he has thought, and sometimes said, 'Teach the children to write legibly, to figure accurately and quickly, to acquire habits of punctuality and order; to be prompt t obey and not question why...'"



Addams' time was more polite than our own. I'm quite certain she knew damn well that businessmen did want school to deliver workers cheap. And it is still the same today--both the Sandia Report and the SCANS report found that American business and industry spend paltry amounts of money on developing workers compared to Asian and European nations.



And by the way, how come organizations like the BRT always want schools to develop better workers, not better capitalists?

Gerald Bracey


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