Teach reading, math — and mix in grit and character, too

Published: Monday, Sept. 10 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: Character is more important than smarts, at least that is how New York Times columnist Joe Nocera sees the world, especially after reading Paul Tough's new book, "How Children Succeed." See his review and commentary:

"Early in his acceptance speech Thursday night, President Obama gave a nod to his administration's backing of education reform. 'Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading,' he said, calling on the country to add 100,000 math and science teachers in the next decade. Then he moved on to other topics, like foreign policy and Medicare, that he clearly views as more vital to the campaign as it enters the home stretch.

"It is hardly a surprise that education isn't a heated subject in the presidential race. Not when the economy is still sluggish, and the fight over the role of government so central. Besides, Republicans and Democrats alike have tried to fix education: George W. Bush with 'No Child Left Behind,' and Obama with his administration's 'Race to the Top.' Those 'real gains' notwithstanding, progress remains fitful and frustrating. Too many disadvantaged children remain poorly educated. Too many high school graduates don't attend — or drop out — of college, which has become the prerequisite for a middle-class existence."

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