Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Social Promotion in New York Schools


With both an article and an editorial on the subject, lamenting Mayor Bloomberg's effort to end social promotion in the city's public schools, the New York Times takes the position that social promotion should be continued. Perhaps as a result, it is only in the last paragraph of the article on the subject that the following truism is raised:
Mr. Levine, of Teachers College, said both social promotion and holding children back were mistakes. "There is no win here," he said. "If you don't promote the kid, what happens is higher chance of drop-out, and also they're going to get the same instruction they got last time. If you promote them, you have a kid who hasn't mastered the previous material who is now being asked to master more advanced material."
It's easy to complain that social promotion is "necessary" to avoid social stigma and increased drop-out rates, but the New York Times fails to editorialize in favor of the costly intervention necessary to try to bring the failing kids up to grade. Pretending that there is no cost to promoting kids who are likely to end up underperforming throughout their public school careers, is not a solution - it's a variant of the same problem.

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