Most “school reform” these days aims to get rid of bad teachers and close down underperforming schools. The theory is that American education does a considerably worse job than schools in other countries.
Robert Samuelson, in today’s Washington Post, shows that this is not entirely true. When only white students in the U.S. are compared, then we do very well. Asian students in the U.S. score higher than students in any other country.
The problem is that black and Hispanic students score extremely low. Scores from those students pull the total U.S. score down — and mask the issue.
The schools work fine for most white students, but they are unable to overcome what Samuelson calls “the legacy of history and culture.” We are asking schools to overcome centuries of racism and, not surprisingly, they can’t do this alone. Getting rid of teachers’ unions or opening charter schools won’t solve what appears to be cultural and economic barriers to education that go back generations.
• Rural teens were 26 percent more likely to abuse prescription drugs than urban teens, according to a University of Kentucky survey.
Overall, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, 13% of rural kids said they used prescription drugs without a doctor’s permission compared to 10% of urban youth.
• The American Farm Bureau intends to sue the federal Environmental Protection Agency over its plans to curb the flow of pollutants and sediments into the Chesapeake Bay.
Many of the pollutants targeted by the EPA come from farms, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. In particular, the new EPA rules would impact large animal feeding operations.
“This diet threatens to starve agriculture out of the entire 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed,’’ said AFM president Bob Stallman.
• Rep. Frank Lucas, the new chair of the House Ag Committee, has named his subcommittee chairmen.
• Interesting experiment in Massachusetts to draw doctors into community health centers.
Robert and Myra Kraft have given $20 million to Partners HealthCare System to be used to lure doctors into community health care practices across the state.
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, said “well-to-do people from the Middle East” fly to Boston for treatment at the city’s elite teaching hospitals while “people living in our own communities aren’t treated properly.’’