Despite almost 50 years of large and accelerating efforts to improve the school achievement of African-American students, the gap between their achievement and that of whites and Asians remains about as large as ever.
Yet proposals for what to do about it are basically unchanged: Spend more money and divert existing money to reduce class size and train teachers better, have more students take a rigorous college prep curriculum, work on improving self-esteem, have high expectations, eliminate ability-grouped classes, use cooperative-learning techniques, and reassign top teachers to schools with a high percentage of African-American students.
I have become especially doubtful about whether those approaches will work better in the future than they have in the past when I read this report from the trenches. (I have added boldface to the previous sentence after having posted the essay because some commenters, despite the essay's byline, think I wrote it.) Usually, we hear only from politicians and education leaders (who also are politicians) spouting lofty rhetoric. Occasionally, we hear of a promising program, but which never turns out to be scalable. Or we see a Hollywood movie about some amazing teacher.