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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 11/ 9/2009

The last Bracey Report: Myths about mayoral control, 'high quality' schools, standards

By Valerie Strauss

Raise your hand if you believe that high-quality schools alone are the answer to the achievement gap in public education. Then, read educational psychologist Gerald Bracey’s last major work, which you can find here.

In “The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education,” he busts what he considered to be three myths that are nevertheless driving public education today.

1. High-quality schools can eliminate the achievement gap between
whites and minorities.

2. Mayoral control of public schools is an improvement over the more
common elected board governance systems.

3. Higher standards will improve the performance of public schools.

Bracey, an educational psychologist who was the country’s most acerbic critic of education policy, died last month. For 18 years the annual Bracey Report was published in the educational journal Phi Delta Kappan.

His 19th and last is being published today by the Education in the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University. This report was developed enough for education critic Susan Ohanian and Penn State Associate Education Professor Pat Hinchey to finish it.

In regard to the first myth, here are a few of his points:

*There is no universal definition of a “high quality” school.

*“Before taking up the question of whether schools alone can remedy the
achievement gap for poor children, we have to ask what is known about the effect
of poverty on children. What are some of the out-of-school factors that contribute
to poor children’s lower performance?”

You can see where he is going with this argument.

The Bracey Report will take some time to read but it will give you a lot to consider, and help you understand what a fine mind (and a brutal mouth) the world of education lost when Bracey passed away.

After you read it, please report back here with your conclusions about his conclusions.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 9, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Learning, National Standards, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  Gerald Bracey, achievement gap, content standards  
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