Diane Ravitch is one of the most thoughtful experts on education in the U.S. Today in the New York Sun, she urges that we don’t blame teachers for all the ills in our public education system:

“I have not met all three million of our nation’s teachers, but every one that I have met is hardworking, earnest, and deeply committed to their students. All of them talk about parental lack of support for children, about a popular culture that ridicules education and educators, and about the frustrations of trying to awaken a love of learning in children who care more about popular culture, their clothing, and their social life than mastering the wonders of science, history, and mathematics.

“This is a tangled skein of causation, to be sure, but I have a radical idea. Next time there is a conference about the state of American education – or the problems found in each and every school district – why don’t we take a hard look at why so many of our students are slackers? Why don’t we look at the popular culture and its effects on students’ readiness to apply themselves to learning? Why don’t we investigate the influence of the role models of “success” that surround our children in the press? Why don’t we ask how often our children see models of success who are doctors, nurses, educators, scientists, engineers, and others who enable our society to function and who contribute to our common good?”