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Chris Tienkin, a professor at Seton Hall University, analyzed the data from the PISA international tests and concludes that they say more about American society than about American schools.
“Reform” policy makers like Arne Duncan and rightwing pundits like Michelle Rhee have used international scores to criticize and demean public schools and teachers. This tactic began with “A Nation at Risk,” which used the scores to predict the imminent decline of the American economy. It didn’t happen, of course, but the naysayers never stopped blaming the schools for their threat to our future, even as our economy boomed.
The biggest problem for our society is poverty, which affects test scores. But the test scores are the least of what matters. Inequality and poverty threaten our future and blight the lives of millions of Americans. The lucky few live in splendor; the desperate poor live in squalor. Public schools are not responsible for the disparity. At this point in history, the blame lies with the politics of greed.