The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America’s broken education system–and how to fix it

August 16, 2019 - Comment

The untold story of the root cause of America’s education crisis–and the seemingly endless cycle of multigenerational poverty. It was only after years within the education reform movement that Natalie Wexler stumbled across a hidden explanation for our country’s frustrating lack of progress when it comes to providing every child with a quality education. The

The untold story of the root cause of America’s education crisis–and the seemingly endless cycle of multigenerational poverty.

It was only after years within the education reform movement that Natalie Wexler stumbled across a hidden explanation for our country’s frustrating lack of progress when it comes to providing every child with a quality education. The problem wasn’t one of the usual scapegoats: lazy teachers, shoddy facilities, lack of accountability. It was something no one was talking about: the elementary school curriculum’s intense focus on decontextualized reading comprehension “skills” at the expense of actual knowledge. In the tradition of Dale Russakoff’s The Prize and Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars, Wexler brings together history, research, and compelling characters to pull back the curtain on this fundamental flaw in our education system–one that fellow reformers, journalists, and policymakers have long overlooked, and of which the general public, including many parents, remains unaware.

But The Knowledge Gap isn’t just a story of what schools have gotten so wrong–it also follows innovative educators who are in the process of shedding their deeply ingrained habits, and describes the rewards that have come along: students who are not only excited to learn but are also acquiring the knowledge and vocabulary that will enable them to succeed. If we truly want to fix our education system and unlock the potential of our neediest children, we have no choice but to pay attention.

Comments

Anonymous says:

A must read for anyone with a stake in education I read this book as a parent of young elementary students. Over the last several years, I’ve read Daniel Willingham’s and E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s books and articles on reading and the importance of a content rich curriculum in the early grades. I’ve also read the book Natalie Wexler’s co-authored, The Writing Revolution. So I was very eager to get my hands on this book as soon as it came out!Essentially, the majority of US elementary schools use language arts curriculum that attempts…

Anonymous says:

The importance of knowledge has been overlooked What I learned:Content knowledge can not take the backseatFoundational skills and knowledge development must occur simultaneouslyTeaching content is teaching reading…Teachers can help struggling readers by helping them build background knowledge on a variety of topicsPublic schools can no longer ignore the fact that high quality education must integrate knowledge with reading skills, especially in the early grades

Anonymous says:

Knowledge>Skills!! ECE/Elementary educators—read this! I have never left a review before but this book really impressed me. I am just starting out in my teaching career, this will be my 3rd year in elementary teaching. Having taught at a charter school in Washington DC last year that uses much of the skilled-based instruction discussed in the book, this book identified so many issues I had with it. I’ve now switched to a charter network that uses the CKLA knowledge based curriculum discussed in the book and so much of the data and stories cited…

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