Obstacles to K-12 Student Success

In yesterday’s post, Diane Ravitch references a survey of the nation’s teachers of the year http://dianeravitch.net/2015/05/20/teachers-of-the-year-say-that-family-stress-and-poverty-are-biggest-obstacles/). She quotes Lyndsey Layton in the Washington Post:

The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems.

So the problem isn’t due to “low expectations, bad teachers, teachers’ unions, tenure, seniority, and the need for competition and accountability” (Diane’s words). Duh! Any of us who had even the vaguest interest in education knew or suspected this all along. Ah, but Arnie and the states won’t go down easily. They will argue that, of course, teachers will deflect blame.

At the end of her blog, Diane asks, “Why don’t Congress and the states listen to the experts?” Yes, why? Members of the medical profession are not held accountable for increasing incidents of cancer, maiming automobile accidents, gunshots wounds, and on and on. Yet we listen to them when they site causes. Lawyers (those practicing law, not those writing laws) are not held accountable for the crime rate, yet we respect their opinions. We don’t blame architects for the destruction caused by an earthquake, yet we listen to their ideas on building earthquake resistant structures. Go ahead, name another profession whose members’ opinions are at least respected. OK, maybe law enforcement recently but I can’t think of another.