Saturday, May 21, 2011

Education - Billions of Dollars, Poor Results and No Outrage

In the late 1990's, former education Bill Bennett penned a book entitled The Death of Outrage. Even though this was a politically directed book, this title can be applied to many different situations especially public education.

Where is the outrage in public education? We hear about all the reasons why No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is bad and won't work, but the average American citizen is not hearing about the results or lack thereof that are happening each and every day throughout the elementary, middle schools, high schools and college classrooms.

Each year in conjunction with the Gallup organization, Phi Delta Kappa releases its poll of attitudes towards American public education. What is interesting to note is the yearly consistently high scores of A's or B's that respondents who are parents give their local schools. Yet, results from the Nation's Report card as well as another recently released study from American Institutes for Research show that these parents really don't know the "real story."

Here are some facts from a variety of sources that can be easily located using the Internet:

4 year bachelor's degree takes a minimum of 5.3 years to earn.
50% of college students take at least one remedial course
17 year olds have not gained one point in reading during the last 33 years.
Most soon to be college graduates lack the analytical ability to understand a credit card offer or compare the cost per ounce of food.
20% of college students could not estimate if they had enough gas to get to the a service station.
80% to 75% of surveyed adults believe that it somewhat likely to unlikely in securing a teacher with a 4 year college degree who is fully licensed or certified and knows the subject matter (the definition of highly qualified teacher under NCLB).
In 1998, less than 65% of 12th grade students understood the purpose of a tax table.
Between 1992 and 2005 national fourth grade reading score (NAEP)s went from 217 to 219 on a scale of 500.
Eighth grade scores in the same time frame went up 2 points from 260 to 262.
In 30 years, reading scores in grades 4th, 8th and 12th never exceeded 300 points on a scale of 500.(NAEP)
Urban school students still suffer from under-education despite increase of 50% in federal funding since 2000 where much of the federal dollars are directed.

A Thought: If we look at student performance from a simple analogy perspective, would you put your money in a bank that delivered less than a 5% return over the course of 33 years? Of course, not!
Every day we receive new information showing that despite the increase in funding from both states and federal governments (2004-05 school year is estimated at $536 billion for K-12 and another $373 billion for higher education), our spending is not achieving performance improvement when compared to nations that spend far less and achieve higher levels of student performance.

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