The sky isn't falling in US public schools, folks. Some readers likely already knew that, particularly those who are followers of the late Gerald Bracey's work, amongst other debunkers of educational disinformation.
The results of the recent PISA exams highlight this fact, but you wouldn't know it from US Sec. of Education, Arne Duncan or any other doom-sayer, bloviator, pundit, or deformer. And with good reason. Because what the numbers say is disturbing, but not because our schools are failing us.
The facts are that our schools are amongst the best in the world, but to see it you have to compare apples to apples. And what's being done with the PISA scores for the most part is what's been done with so much other data: the wrong things are compared and the apparent results make our public schools look like they're at best doing a mediocre job.
What is being missed or hidden by the 'experts' who want to convince us to fire teachers, bust unions, turn public education over to Wall Street, promote charters, hand out vouchers to parents (particularly rich and upper-middle class ones), and generally dismantle our public schools in order to turn them over to drooling private market entrepreneurs and (many) charlatans? The fact that the US has an enormous disparity between rich and poor compared with other industrialized nations, and the impact of poverty on the average scores. But disambiguate scores so that we compare similar economic strata across nations and suddenly we're just where one might guess: Number One.
But please, don't take my word for it. Read a detailed analysis. Then consider why Duncan, Rhee, Klein, and so many others are SO invested in convincing you that it's our ENTIRE nation's schools that are in crisis, at risk, failing, collapsing, corrupt, incompetent, bleeding money, and all the rest of it. Why they look at the public schools alone as having failed to solve the effects of severe poverty in rural and urban settings alike. Or in other words, why they don't want you to realize that poverty and greed at the top of our economic system, not teachers' unions, is what's keeping the folks at the bottom from lifting themselves by their non-existent bootstraps.