I have great respect for my colleague and friend Jay Mathews at the Washington Post, but I was disturbed to read that only this week did he learn that lack of effort had anything to do with the stagnant or worse performance of so-so students in Montgomery County, Maryland, and, by extension, America. Isn’t this obvious to those who spend time with teenagers who aren’t super-strivers? What a wide variety of students put into school, and what they get out of it, should be a major focus of our education coverage, from elementary school through college.
This isn’t to excuse the myriad ways in which schools fail their students, but sometimes students fail themselves, and we’ve set up structures that enable them to do so. It is imperative to explore how and why.