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September 09, 2009
October 09, 2009
Inequality for All: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools
This wonky but important (and exceptionally timely) book by Bill Schmidt, a Michigan State “university distinguished professor,” and Curtis McKnight, an emeritus math professor at the University of Oklahoma, is a distinctive, deeply researched, and amply documented plea for full-scale implementation of the Common Core math standards. The authors reach that destination after taking readers on a fascinating curricular journey.
They closely examine the extent to which young Americans in various states, districts, schools, and classrooms have equal opportunities to learn the same high-quality math content in grades K–8—and find grievous gaps and injustices.
One might suppose that this most hierarchical and standardized of core subjects would yield the greatest uniformity from place to place within the United States. Critics of national curricula (and the Common Core) periodically declare that NAEP, the textbook oligopoly, the NCTM, and college-entrance exams have caused math curricula to be very similar across the land.
Schmidt and McKnight, however, show conclusively that this presumption is false. And they link the variation they identified in content coverage and delivery to the country’s vexing achievement gaps, its deteriorating social mobility, and its generally weak educational performance. Here are a few excerpts from the book’s alarming—and stirring—final chapter:
Uniform standards such as those in the Common Core won’t solve this set of problems in and of themselves. But without such standards, it’s not likely ever to be solved.