A British education training nonprofit is being accused of censorship after it retracted an opinion essay challenging environmental determinism from its website.
The essay, titled “Are there any limits to what schools can achieve?” was published on the website of Teach First last Thursday to foster more dialogue following an education summit in Wembley a day earlier. The essay’s author and summit panelist, Toby Young, says he was blindsided at the sudden retraction two days after its publication.
“The first I knew about it [the article’s retraction] was when I heard about it on Twitter,” said Mr. Young, director of the New Schools Network, a charter school advocacy charity based in London. “As it was, I found myself on a Saturday morning having to defend myself from an organisation I have always supported and which I had always thought of as on the same side as me in the education reform movement.”
Mr. Young’s opinion piece summarized some of the scientific literature on intelligence to cast doubt on the belief that environments alone can determine pupils’ educational achievement. It was published alongside a rebuttal essay by Sonia Blandford, founder and C.E.O. of education charity, Achievement for All.
On Oct. 28, both essays were retracted by Teach First. “We made a mistake,” the charity announced on Twitter. “We published two blogs with opposing views as part of a recent debate on education. One was wrong. We’ve removed it. Sorry.”