Conventional Wisdom and Popular (Mis)Understanding of “Failing Schools”

  •  Keith E. Benson    


While the conception of “failing schools” has proliferated the American public’s (mis)understanding of performance of low-income urban public schools unabated since A Nation at Risk, education literature suggests “failing schools” are not what has been commonly described in conventional wisdom. Here, I begin by conceptualizing conventional wisdom before describing the popular narrative affixed to “failing schools” and briefly discussing the history of standardized assessments implemented to identify “failing schools”. And as the popular conception of “failing schools” position such schools as irredeemable education spaces as evidenced by students’ performance on standardized tests, in this article I attempt to posit a rebuttal to that conventional wisdom, namely that “failing schools” do not exist as isolated institutional sources of academic “failure” but are byproducts of longstanding economic and policy neglect of poor urban communities by policymakers, yet serve as convenient targets for the ultra-wealthy to divert popular attention away from systemic economic inequities which created illusion of “failing schools” to begin with.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-5250
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-5269
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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