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Ted Sizer's Remarks: Coalition of Essential Schools


"Neither you nor I should be surprised that some of our shared ideas and the practices that flow from them mesh poorly with some current educational policies and political opinions. So be it. We cannot pretend and should not pretend otherwise, even as some dismiss us as unwisely "radical" in our beliefs, "radical" in the pejorative, the opposite is the truth.

It is a radical idea that all children grow at the same rate and in the same way and thus can thereby be accurately classified and "graded" in narrow, standardized ways.

It is a radical idea that the power of a child's mind can be plumbed by a single test and reduced to a small clutch of numbers.

It is a radical idea that people of any age can learn well in crowded, noisy, and ill-equipped places.

It is a radical idea that serious learning can best emerge from a student's exposure to short blasts of "delivered" content, each of less than an hour in length, and unified by no coherent set of common ideas.

It is a radical idea that a child can learn what is needed to live well in a complex society with schooling that encompasses barely half the days of a calendar year; and that ignores the opportunities --or lack of opportunities-- available to each child."