Running to Roget

As members of the Massachusetts State Board of Education rack their collective brain by searching for kinder words than "underperforming" with which to label sorry schools, the board's only student member, Zachary Tsetsos, seemed to be also the only one with any common sense. "Why are we spending time on this?" he asked. "I'm not concerned about what title we give these schools. Let's work on fixing them." Gadfly agrees; the Board would do well to abandon its multi-month hunt through the thesaurus for ways to obscure the obvious and bolster educators' self-esteem. (If decades of research into self-esteem has shown us anything, it's that true self-esteem results from bona fide accomplishment, not fake pumping-up.) The "underperforming" tag is intended to designate the school so labeled as failing to meet accountability standards. Weakening the language ("Commonwealth priority" is one suggested change) will only confuse everyone. Reality: many students are underperforming, and so are many schools, even in Massachusetts. To change that, their schools require administrators and a state board that engage in substantive reforms, not semantic gymnastics.

"Education Leaders Seeking Gentler Euphemisms for Failing Schools," Associated Press, March 22, 2008

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