Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools

Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools

Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools

Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools

Excerpt

Chester E. Finn Jr., Diane Ravitch, and Robert T. Fancher

Excellence in academic education for all of our nation's children is, at last, becoming a significant issue in public consciousness and debate. For nearly twenty years, the very idea of excellence was in disrepute. The conventional wisdom held that excellence was synonymous with elitism, that only a handful of children would benefit from a strong academic program, and that schools should not concern themselves with the needs of the privileged few. Behind this analysis was the assumption, often made explicit, that many children could not learn and therefore should not be exposed to the humiliation of failure, which would only embitter them and cause them to leave school early. Misconceived efforts to hold down the dropout rate led to lowered standards and to social promotion, with the unhappy result that all children received a cheapened quality of schooling without any appreciable reduction of the dropout rate. The . . .

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