In a commencement speech, Richard Rothstein challenged the reform narrative.

First, he demonstrated that the central thesis of “reform” is wrong: American public education is not failing.

Second, he demonstrated the dramatic progress made in recent years especially by African American students.

Third, he challenged the “reform” claim that scores are influenced solely by teachers.

Fourth, he demonstrated that social and economic conditions have a strong influence on test scores.

As he shows, and as should be obvious to all but those with hardened hearts, children have more trouble learning if they are hungry and homeless.

For reformers to treat social and economic conditions as excuses, rather than as brutal facts that must be addressed, is just plain wrong.

Of course, we won’t vanquish poverty or close the glaring income gaps in our generation.

But, shame on us if we don’t even try.