David Brooks is wrong…
… or purposely hyperbolic? He wrote in today’s column on education reform, “In every other job in this country, people are measured by whether they produce results.” Why does he need to say that? Whether or not you think it should be the case, it is just not true. Also, among smart reformers, there is not consensus that once “mediocrity infects a school culture, it’s nearly always best to simply replace the existing school with another,” as he wrote.
Not that Brooks would remember, but I worked for him in my first job in journalism, an internship on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal Europe, in Brussels. I got the job even though my writing sample roundly criticized Reagan. “We like Reagan here,” Brooks said, sitting under a portrait of Margaret Thatcher. (For the record, I criticized Carter too. Also for the record, Brooks and my other colleagues in that brief internship were extremely kind, inclusive and helpful, even if David did insert the term “leftist shibboleths” into an op-ed I wrote. At age 20, I didn’t know what those were, much less what I thought of them.)
Anyway. For a lot of smart people, Brooks’s columns are nearly all they will read about education reform. He often makes good points, always in a powerful way. I guess it is the prerogative of columnists to mold their arguments the way they see fit. But that doesn’t mean I won’t call out exaggerations, misstatements and omissions.