December 9, 2006

"Teachers who work 15 to 16 hours a day:"

The New York Times Magazine runs another article about how to achieve the mandate of the No Child Left Behind act by closing the race gaps in American schools. In "What It Takes to Make a Student," NYT staffer Paul Tough visits some of the handful of charter schools where black or Hispanic students score above average and makes a list of what they need to succeed. My favorite: "Teachers who work 15 to 16 hours a day." That sounds like something Mao would have called for during the Great Leap Forward: "My plan for backyard steel furnaces is guaranteed to succeed if the peasants work 15 to 16 hours a day!"
I don't doubt that a handful of superstar principals and teachers can make a big difference, just as a great basketball coach can win with fairly short players. In 1964, after many years as an also-ran, UCLA's John Wooden won the NCAA championship with a team with nobody over 6'-5." So, did Wooden resolve to continue to shatter the stereotype that height matters in basketball? No, he then took his prestige as a coach who could win with a small team, went all the way to New York City, and landed the best big man of the decade, 7'-2" Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
In contrast, Adolph Rupp of Kentucky won four national titles while recruiting 80% of his players from his home state. "Rupp's Runts" in 1966 were so short that they had to use 6'-4" Pat Riley, the future NBA coaching legend, for the opening center-jump. Rupp believed a good coach could win with undistinguished talent. But in this year's movie "Glory Road," Rupp is the bad guy who loses in the title game to the wave of the future, coach Don Haskins, who scoured the country to bring talent to El Paso.
Similarly, schools also routinely transform their flash-in-the-pan reputations for working wonders in to the long term capital of better students.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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