In 2011, David Brooks heard me speak at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where I talked about a life course approach to improving the lives of children. Days later, he published an article criticizing me for saying that testing and choice were inadequate to overcome the problems of kids who live in poverty.

At the time, he was still enthralled by the idea that charters were a systemic answer to these problems..

But –mirabile dictu!–Brooks has a column today recanting his earlier views. He actually says it takes a generation to raise a child.

He writes:

“….we’ve probably put too much weight on school reform. Again, reforming education is important. But getting the academics right is not going to get you far if millions of students can’t control their impulses, can’t form attachments, don’t possess resilience and lack social and emotional skills.

“So when President Obama talks about expanding opportunity in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, I’m hoping he’ll widen the debate. I’m hoping he’ll sketch out a stage-by-stage developmental agenda to help poor children move from birth to the middle class.”

This is a sign of real progress for those of us who have argued that the “reform movement”–focused on testing, charters, and vouchers– is a distraction at best and a threat to the survival of American public education at worst.