'Iceberg Effect' Authors Rebut Critic's 'Misguided' Blog Post

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

Marc Tucker's outburst attacking our recent summary report, "Iceberg Effect" was so misguided and rife with errors and misconstructions that we have issued an open letter responding point by point to the blog post.

Both organizations that issued the report—the Horace Mann League and the National Superintendents Roundtable—also wanted to address the blog post here in the pages of Education Week. The "Iceberg Effect" is a summary of our full report, "School Performance in Context: Indicators of School Inputs and Outputs in Nine Similar Nations."

Tucker appears most distressed about one recommendation, among dozens in the document, urging a reduction in alarmist rhetoric about schools. But in his blog post, Tucker fails to deal convincingly with the quantitative evidence offered in "Iceberg Effect" and laid out completely in the full report, specifically:

The United States has the highest rates of childhood poverty in the developed world.

Social stress (including deaths from violence) is highest in the nine-nation world with which the United States is compared.

U.S. support for young families is the lowest in the developed world.

Fifty years of research demonstrates that all of these issues are strongly related to student achievement.

Rather than dealing with these issues, which are laid out in "Iceberg Effect," Tucker's criticism of our report instead comes perilously close to blaming schools for this nationwide social dysfunction. He seems fixated on how the United States is falling behind other countries, when we should be concentrating instead on how the United States is failing in comparison with its own values.

Tucker's argument (and the disparaging tone accompanying it) is all the more surprising since his organization, the National Center on Education and the Economy, has produced an excellent set of recommendations in its "Nine Building Blocks for a World-Class State Education System" that we would argue track many of the recommendations in "Iceberg Effect."

One of the giants of 20th-century British politics, Tony Benn, once said: "Hope is the fuel of progress, and fear is the prison in which you put yourself." We vote for more hope, less fear, and yes—we vote for minimizing the alarmist rhetoric.

Charles Fowler
Horace Mann League
Exeter, N.H.

James Harvey
Executive Director
National Superintendents Roundtable
Seattle, Wash.

Vol. 35, Issue 09, Page 20

Published in Print: October 21, 2015, as 'Iceberg Effect' Authors Rebut Critic's 'Misguided' Blog Post
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories