This week's news brings up a study which has results that fall squarely in the "no duh!" territory: a study from the Thomas Fordham Institute shows that concentrating efforts on bringing the lowest achieving students up to par drags down the highest achievers. Not terribly surprising. Public education has never been about fostering excellence. It's always been about getting people to a minimum standard with no incentive to push beyond that.
Because there's not much incentive for going beyond what's required, public education largely becomes a system forcing homogeneity and universal mediocrity onto students who are naturally stratified in their talents. With the obsession with tracking everything with standardized tests and the arguably senseless "No Child Left Behind" measures implemented under G-Dub, public education has become a wasteland for student development. Not to say there aren't good schools, teachers, and students out there. Educational excellence still exists in the morass of the public school system, but I fear that it only exists as mini ecosystems where learning thrives. The ocean of mediocrity (and the ever increasing cesspools of incompetence) loom large and threaten to make all our students equally subpar.