Moment of Truth @MLA

, Malcolm A. Kline, 2 Comments

When professors drop their guard, you get to realize how decayed education is, higher and lower. “We prefer to pretend that bad students don’t exist,” Gerald Graff of the University of Illinois at Chicago told a panel at the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) annual meeting in that city. “It’s different in the faculty lounge where student howlers are a frequent topic of conversation but we scrub them from our public statements.”

“We think we’re too progressive.” Graff is a past president of the MLA.

Graff went on to say that he agrees with the 2005 statement of Margaret Spellings that colleges don’t accept responsibility that students learn. “I believe that Spellings is right,” Graff said of the pronouncement by President George W. Bush’s Secretary of Education.

Graff, also supports President Obama’s Common Core endorsement, although, as reported by our own Spencer Irvine, his statements on its behalf hardly constitute a ringing endorsement. “The Common Core standards emphasize much higher level thinking skills” than previous standards, said Graff.

He went on to say, “I just don’t see the massive demoralization of teachers” and instead see “a great sense of excitement.” He did agree that “these standards should be used flexibly and not punitively,” but that the education system has to “do a better job” of raising all students to a basic level. “We need to help all students meet these standards,” said Graff.

Graff disagreed with “neoconservatives and conservatives” who said that liberals “are too lazy to clean their own house” in the education sector.