John McWhorter examines a myth of modern education:
Eskimos do not have more words for snow than English. James Cagney never said “You dirty rat” in any of his films. Abraham Lincoln had a reedy voice, not the elegant baritone of Sam Waterston.
Those misconceptions are hard to shake because they sit so comfortably in the mind. There is another one more disturbing: the bien-pensant American’s assumption that the reason inner city schools are such disasters is because the feds starve them of money, instead shunting cash to schools in leafy suburbs.
Jonathan Kozol’s book “Savage Inequalities” set into the Zeitgeist an image of poor kids sharing textbooks in schools “with peeling paint.” The paint, which one hears cited again and again, seems to have made an especially deep impression on readers. The lesson is that lack of funds is the reason no learning goes on in these schools.
Interesting, though, how little interest people, who impose Kozol’s theory on students nationwide, have in observing cases in which Mr. Kozol’s advice is actually taken. Such cases teach a new lesson.
Read the rest here.