Horace’s Compromise, Horace’s Hope, & Horace’s School  

by Theodore Sizer

The Horace books provide a penetrating insight into how the fractured nature of time usage, high student seen by each teacher daily, and other factors contribute to pressure on teachers to succumb to a "conspiracy of mediocrity" with teachers allowing students to slide by and students not mentioning it. Sizer gives the standard anti-test arguments, but his is not an anti-rigor arugment.   I read him as demanding not only the basics, but MUCH more. His ideas form the basis of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Done well, the CES approach can challenge and engage many students, some of whom might not respond to other approaches. The approach, however, is easy to do poorly, and poorly done it is a disaster. The key is the rigor of the analysis.