Monday, June 15, 2009

What’s really needed here is political courage

Britain’s Channel 4 will be running a documentary today about US airstrikes last August on Azizabad in Afghanistan, which killed 91 civilians. Evidently there were no actual Taliban there, but the raid was based on a false tip from someone involved in a feud between that village and another one. American forces also tortured one Azizabadhoovian to death. If any British readers see this program, please report anything else interesting back to the rest of us in comments.

The Education Department will spend $350 million to develop national standards. And by national standards, they mean national tests. Because, according to EdSec Arne Duncan, “If we’re going to have world-class international standards, we need to have world-class evaluations behind them.” “50 states doing their own thing doesn’t make sense.” The Obama administration policy is pretty much the same as the Bush admin’s, from the insistence that setting high standards automatically improves education, down to the refusal to admit that improving education might require spending some money on actual teaching rather than test development. Said Duncan, “Resources are important, but resources are actually a small piece of this puzzle. What’s really needed here is political courage.” And... moxie!

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