Friday, September 4, 2009

Paging Dr. Pangloss

I don't have a whole lot to say about the self-evidently ridiculous school progress reports that the DOE released this week. Even the rabidly pro-mayoral control New York Post is saying that something is wrong when 97% of city schools receive an A or a B on their "progress report." Most of those were A's even. Oh, and did we mention that the mayor is running for re-election?

I'm also going to skip the Lake Wobegon, all the children are above average jokes. It's been done before and I'm aiming for something a little more literary this morning. I'm thinking of Dr. Pangloss, who at least appears in the musical version of Candide (though I haven't read the book). In the musical, Pangloss is constantly declaring that we live in the best of all possible worlds and therefore whatever's happened, no matter how terrible, it must be for the best.

I couldn't help but think of old Pangloss while reading the New York Times recounting of the progress report release. In the article, Chancellor Klein declares, "I think there’s nothing wrong with anything. I know we need to find something wrong here, but there’s nothing wrong with anything."

I just think it's an exceptionally telling quote from the Chancellor. Certainly, the sentiment would fit the DOE's panglossian view of reality. I just wish it were accurate.

P.S. In the spirit of Dr. Pangloss' optimism, I thought I would point out that David Brooks actually has a decent column today about health care reform. Turns out he can make good points when he knows what he's talking about. Further evidence that he should leave education alone.

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