The ordinarily thoughtful New York Times opinion writer Nicholas Kristof today joined a relatively long list of columnists who tend to leave much of their reflectiveness at the door when they write about school issues (see Students Over Unions). His piece is riddled with errors and misconceptions, as I’m sure many education researchers and others will soon be describing (and I’ll add links to their posts here). Of course, I also have many “The Best…” lists offering ample evidence contradicting his main points (especially on value added assessments and the Myth Of “Five (Or Three) Great Teachers In A Row”).
I’ve written about this problem before — Why Do So Many Ordinarily Thoughtful Columnists “Lose It” When They Write About Schools?
Sadly Kristof has been banging this drum for a while. I used to think it was because Bloomberg had bought the Times, but I think it’s also the seductiveness that a certain kind of globalizing generalization holds for a certain kind of ivy-educated Mr. I-Can-Fixit. The messiness, the irreducible particularity of kids are inimical to this kind of blueprint-loving mentality; the one-size-fits-all solution, that you can fit into a 250 word op ed, must be the right solution, anything else would be too much trouble.
Cited you in my own take on Kristof’s disappointing column.