Richard Riley is challenging NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to stop social promotion after the 3rd grade [Why not 1st grade? -ed.].
Former U.S. secretary of Education Riley (one of the rare creatures to survive both of Bill ClintonÃ¢€™s terms in office) came out in favor of federal policies aimed at stopping the advancement of students regardless of their performance in reading and math. He recoils, however, at the notion that you can help students by merely holding them back. From his office in South Carolina, Riley told NEWSWEEKÃ¢€™s Jonathan Darman that politicians have to match tough social-promotion policies with a serious commitment to fixing schools.
I was going to make a snarky comment about how spending eight years in charge of fixing the schools and not fixing them is prima facie evidece that you should not be listened to of fixing the schools until I reminded myself that the federal government has virtually nothing to do with schools.
Still, the interview reveals the roots of the problem: The idea that it isn’t “fair” to “punish” a child for not learning if the schools aren’t the best possible. One would think it’s precisely those kids–who have the least going for them–who need to be protected from being passed through a system without learning.