We do not live in Lake Wobegon. In all areas of academic ability, half of the children are below average. This fact has implications for education and public policy, and yet it’s something most politicians and public intellectuals would rather not talk about. It amounts to educational romanticism. At its heart is a glib presumption that every child can be anything he or she wants to be if only the schools do their job properly. No one really believes it, but we approach education’s problems as if we did. We are phobic about saying out loud that children differ in their ability to the things that schools teach. Not only deo we hate to say it, we get angry with people who do. We insist that the emperor is wearing clothes, beautiful clothes, and that those who say otherwise are bad people.