It's because g-ddamn Charles Murray always seems to say all that needs saying about everything that really matters to me before I can get my posterior in gear to say it myself.
I'm looking for something to add to his essay on the utter insanity of "No Child Left Behind": "The age of educational romanticism" - and, perhaps, in due course, I'll come up with a relevant anecdote or two, since I was working in the trenches of the public schools, while he observed from on high.
But, in the meantime, all I can say is: read the whole thing.
One favorite bit:
"Elite white guilt explains much about all kinds of social policy from the last half of the 1960s onward, but especially about education. Until the 1960s, white educators and politicians could look at a class of white children in which a number of students were doing poorly and shrug. The schools try to teach everyone, but some kids can’t handle the material. That’s just the way the things are; it is not a problem that can be fixed. But when the class consisted of black students who were doing poorly, that reaction was not acceptable. These were children growing up in a society where all the odds had been stacked against them, and their failings couldn’t be passed off as 'just the way things are.' Elite white guilt made it impossible to say that a lot of black children were going to continue to fail in school and there’s nothing anybody could do about it. Once it could not be said of black children, neither could it be said of white children. In that context, educational romanticism did not just become fashionable during the 1960s. It became emotionally mandatory.
"And so, beginning with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the federal government embarked on a series of major efforts to improve education for disadvantaged children that culminated in 2002 with the No Child Left Behind Act. Surveying that history, an analogy occurred to me that I offer as a speculative proposition: America’s federal education policy as of 2008 is at about the same place that the Soviet Union’s economic policy was in 1990."
Truer words were never spoken.