Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Blog Posts In Need of Improvement

Just when I figured that I might never write another batch of these I found two posts on the same topic that fail to fully think through the issue. I'm still following the same rules I set out at the beginning: these posts have been chosen because their arguments lack substance, not because I disagree with their position.

BPINI 4: Ohio closes bad schools — if they’re charters, Joanne Jacobs
Why: Jacobs reacts to the news that Ohio is closing two low-performing charter schools by questioning why the state closes bad charter schools but not bad traditional public schools. She implies that charter and traditional public schools are held to different standards and that it's not fair. I think she implies that traditional public schools with low test scores should be closed as well. But she fails to take a very important factor into consideration: charter and traditional public schools serve very different functions. The theory behind charter schools dictates that high-performers be replicated and low-performers be closed, that way we're left with only high-performers. Closing a charter school means that students who would have attended that school attend their neighborhood school instead -- or perhaps another school of choice. Traditional public schools, however, do not function in the same way. They're essentially a community service -- akin to a police or fire station. If the neighborhood school is shut down, there's no immediate back-up option. It would be like shutting down the local police force when there's a problem -- it would serve no purpose because the community still needs a police force. Now, that doesn't mean that the local police station or public school should be allowed to function improperly indefinitely -- when something's broken it should be fixed -- it just means that simply closing it doesn't solve the problem. Because Jacobs fails to take this into account she leaves readers with a false impression of the current climate of education policy and, therefore, fails to productively contribute to the discussion on how to improve our schools.

Better Post, Same Blog: Popularity pays off
Why: An interesting take on the release of a study showing that the more popular students in school have more success in life.

BPINI 5: Double standards, Flypaper (Fordham Institute)
Why: Stafford Palmieri repeats the same mistake. In an extremely terse post she directs readers to what Joanne Jacobs wrote and implies that different actions for low-performing charter and traditional public schools are unfair. As I already explained above, different actions are necessary because the two types of schools serve fundamentally different purposes. The lesson? Be wary of drawing conclusions when reading blog posts that are only a couple sentences long -- there's probably more to the story.

Better Post, Same Blog: Re: Obama talks education
Why: Emily Partin provides a thoughtful discussion of Obama's speech, what it might mean for Ohio, and some limitations to federal power.

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