Questioning “No Excuses”

By Anthony Rebora — May 18, 2009 1 min read
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Could “No Excuses” schools—schools for low-income children that “create a disciplined, orderly and demanding counterculture to inculcate middle-class values,"—be the solution to the achievement gap, as New York Times columnist David Brooks recently suggested? Teachers Nancy Flanagan and Doug Noon have some serious qualms:


[Teachers and parents] understand that, while a “disciplined, orderly and demanding” school environment can promote middle-class values, these efforts, alone, will not sustain long-term changes for underprivileged students. Education reform must be accompanied by low-cost health care, decent housing, public and domestic safety, employment opportunities, job security, and affordable higher education.


The next step in this line of thinking [toward no-excuses schools for poor children] is “paternalism”–a chilling and arrogant word that has recently been promoted as a positive quality in school reform. We choose what we want for our own children, and we know what's best for children in poverty. Work hard, be nice. No second chances, no excuses.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.