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Education Letter to the Editor

Try to Explain Proficiency and Equity to the Media

December 12, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

“‘Proficiency for All’ Is an Oxymoron” (Commentary, Nov. 29, 2006) is indispensable reading for reporters and commentators who write about education because they are in a unique position to shape public opinion. If the past is any guide, however, they will (a) not bother to do so, (b) fail to understand the subject, or (c) reject out of hand the conclusions of the authors.

The result is that taxpayer support for public schools in this country will continue to be insidiously undermined. This erosion masterfully advances the agenda of those seeking to ultimately privatize education. The trouble is that privatization alone will do little to improve educational quality for all children.

It cannot, because it is not the structure of schools alone that is the principal determinant of academic performance, but the economic, social, and cultural backgrounds of parents. Public, private, and religious schools serving similar student populations in the same community are virtually indistinguishable in the results they produce. But try explaining that to the media.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles, Calif.

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A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2006 edition of Education Week as Try to Explain Proficiency and Equity to the Media