Education Letter to the Editor

‘Era of High Standards’ Is Not Incidental to Graduation Rates

August 11, 2008 1 min read

To the Editor:

There’s something askew about the headline on a recent Commentary you published: “Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standards” (July 30, 2008). “High standards,” of course, has mostly come to signify (1) high scores on standardized tests that (2) all students will never be able to attain (because if all students managed to do so, the politicians and corporate groups driving this movement would regard this as evidence that the standards were too low and had to be ratcheted up even further).

But the key word in that sentence is “era,” which seems to signify that the very policies contributing to low graduation rates are just a feature of the age we live in, about which nothing can be done.

It’s rather like a headline one might imagine in The Economist: “Lowering the Deficit in an Era of Huge Tax Breaks for the Wealthy.”

Alfie Kohn

Belmont, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the August 13, 2008 edition of Education Week as ‘Era of High Standards’ Is Not Incidental to Graduation Rates