I was going to write about the book Yo Miz! by Elizabeth Rose. I was going to tell you that it looks good to me. A substitute teacher taught in 25 schools in one year and then wrote about how messed up schools are.

She has good bullets in her promotional material.

  • Journalists are not allowed inside
  • Teachers are punished for speaking out publicly
  • Lawmakers are clueless

But then I realized people would not take this book seriously because it’s from a teacher in New York City public schools. Everyone with kids in school will say, “My kid’s school is better than that. This doesn’t apply to our school.” Even though those three bullets are true of every school, not good schools and bad schools.

Then I saw a memoir, Confesssions of a Bad Teacher, by John Owens. The book got good reviews, and he taught in a highly rated school, and I like that he takes a meta approach to education. For example, he knew within his first few weeks of teaching that he was a bad teacher, because the Gates Foundation and all the other big spenders in education assume that the problem is the teachers. Which means everyone who is teaching is a bad teacher.

I knew most parents would say that they’ve been lucky and their kids’ teachers have been, for the most part, fine. Which is, of course, not true, because all teachers have to teach the proscribed lesson plan rather than a self-directed lesson plan. But parents have cognitive dissonance. Parents can get on board for the idea that teachers are not doing a good job teaching. But they can’t get on board for saying their own kids’ teacher is terrible because then how can they continue sending their kid to school?

We have a lot of data at our fingertips about how poorly our schools function. The problem with it is that it’s so easy to deny that it applies to anyone’s specific school. And this is, largely, how parents continue to send their kids to school. They deny the specific research and believe specific data points don’t apply.

So, what makes a good school? Test scores. That’s it. If you believe that test scores define a child, then you can pick a school for your child. And it might have high test scores. But it’s the same type of school as the schools ex-teachers write about in their memoirs: it’s a school that values test scores more than anything else.

Homeschool is not something you can evaluate with test scores. It’s why parents are scared to do it. They wonder how to know when you’re doing well.

So good schools are ones that let parents feel like they are good parents and continue to deny all the research that proves them wrong.