Background Papers

Various authors, Broader, BOLDER Approach to Education, Jul 31, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Summaries of background papers provided by the 'Broader, BOLDER Approach to Education' education lobby in the United States. Without offering an endorsement, I will say that at least this much is true: "Successful programs do not exclusively focus on academic remediation. Rather, they provide disadvantaged children with the cultural, organizational, athletic, and academic enrichment activities that middle-class parents routinely make available to their own children."

The background documents have attracted what appears to be politically motivated criticism, for example, by Ken DeRosa, who suggests the research does not support the program goals. "What I find is a lot of observational studies that find various correlations... The causal jump is then assumed." DeRosa then raises, as an example, school lunch programs. "Actually, we do that already.... I'm confused." The criticism is capricious and malicious. The document does not once mention school lunches. And even if it did, there is significant room to argue that the $2.57 allocated per lunch is insufficient. But even so, school lunches - the sort of thing that (presumably) would be recommended by Broader Bolder, are - insofar as they go - a success. How this becomes a reason to criticize the strategy is a mystery.
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