Pessimism or realism?
You can find a different take on George Will's column over at The Quick and the Ed. The author, Kevin Carey, is a very detail-oriented guy, but one wonders if today he hasn't missed the forest for the trees.
It's no secret that George Will's writing is less than confident (realistic, perhaps?) about the future of public education, but is Carey's assertion that Will "believes that public education is irredeemable, that efforts to improve it are basically useless" correct? One can't know what George Will thinks, but one can know what he writes, and his article today is simply a clear evaluation of the "reforms" that have predominated in the k-12 sphere. Like it or not, they've largely failed. Whether or not Will thinks the whole operation is "useless" and "irredeemable" is never stated, and it isn't all that important, anyway.
Carey nitpicks about some of the least important parts of Will's piece, and he doesn't like Will's harsh tone. Yet, Moynihan (who is mentioned in the column) did not soften his tone when deriding the more-foolish strategies that run amok in America's schools, and neither does Checker. But beyond all that, can Carey truly argue with Will's larger point: that dumb ideas have taken public education in the wrong direction?