Gerald Bracey

Gerald W. Bracey, an independent researcher and writer, is an Associate of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. He also maintains the Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency web site. His recent books include Setting the Record Straight: Responses to Misconceptions about Public Education in the United States and Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered.

Recent Articles

Are U.S. Students Behind?

The conventional wisdom is that American students perform woefully compared to their foreign peers. Not so: America's kids stack up far better than the critics allow. But there is much to learn from experience abroad about improving our schools.

T he conventional wisdom is now firmly established: American students can't hold their own against their peers in other nations. They can't read, they can't do math, they are abysmally ignorant of science. That has been the message of countless stories in the media, supposedly backed up by international data. And this poor performance, we have been told, is responsible for the economic woes the United States has experienced in recent decades. But global comparisons show no such thing: American students look better in international tests than the critics would have us believe, and the schools have little to do with the "competitiveness" of the economy. For decades, the media have uncritically reported unfavorable comparisons of educational performance, often based on dubious research, and have slighted more positive findings. The result is that an inaccurate picture of total national failure dominates educational policy and politics. American schools do need improvement. But the crux...

What Teachers Know

Works Discussed in this Essay: The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom , by James W. Stigler and James Hiebert. Free Press, 224 pages, $23.00. Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: Teachers' Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and the United States , by Liping Ma. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 166 pages, $19.95. One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards , by Susan Ohanian. Heinemann, 154 pages, $16.00. In November of last year, 200 people, mostly mathematicians, sent an open letter to Secretary of Education Richard Riley. The letter asked him to withdraw the labels "exemplary" and "promising" that the Education Department had recently applied to 10 innovative math programs. I do not know the validity of the criticisms. I do know that the last time the nation let mathematicians develop K-12 curricula, in the post-Sputnik panic, the result was a debacle known as New Math. I mention the letter to...