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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

School Achievement and Choice

An article in The Wall Street Journal on April 3, 2023 ("Milton Friedman's School Choice Revolution - Biden may write him off, but his idea is more popular than ever."} aroused this blog. The greatest factor in school achievement is for a child to have experienced a "good-enough" parenting. If all parents read first to and then with their toddlers, almost all children would be reading simple books by first grade. And, apart from emergency situations, to never say, "Do it because I say so," to children since this depresses the development of the capacity for abstract thinking, as psychologists have long known.

The teachers that I've treated are just as frustrated, having to teach classes of students speaking multiple languages, which can include unsocialized or (literally) crazed students creating classroom chaos and being ignored by administration, having parents who are clueless about parenting or too overwhelmed to provide it. Back to basics, as has long been said, and not the recent craze to avoid standards and achievement tests. The greatest benefit of the admission-test high school I attended was not its academics but that there were no fights or bullying (though being big, I was never bullied), and also no athletics and only rare parties (it was a different time). My dentist, another of its graduates, told me that once he almost got into a fight after making a deprecating remark but though the other student balled his fist he desisted.

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