Rip Van Winkle Would Be Shocked

Published December 22, 2006

Dear Editor:

Your reporters must not have visited a modern-day public school before penning their December 18 article, “How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century.” Most students in today’s classrooms do not sit in rows but face each other in “cooperative learning groups.” Most teachers today do not lecture but act as “facilitators.” And the reason so much attention is currently focused on improving reading and math scores is because so many graduates of our vaunted public school system can’t read well or add numbers without a calculator. Don’t even ask about their writing skills or their knowledge of US history.

Rather than feeling at home in today’s schoolrooms, a Rip Van Winkle from 1906 would be shocked at the undisciplined and disrespectful behavior taking place in them and would wonder whether he had been mistakenly taken to Bedlam instead.

George Clowes ([email protected]) is senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute.