Thursday, March 1

All Poor and Ethnic Children Left Behind

Amid much glad-handing and DC Beltway ballyhoo, George W. Bush in 2002 signed into law his vaunted No Child Left Behind Act to make American education more competitive on the global market.

The thrust of the program requires all traditional school underachievers--low-income and minority (African-American, Hispanic and Native American) students--in all schools be "proficient" in reading and math by 2014.

But test results are not at all encouraging. Now five years into the program, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently has released a study that concludes "The measures of our educational shortcomings are stark indeed; most 4th and 8th graders are not proficient in either reading or mathematics."

In its 28 February 2007 daily Progress Report, the Center for American Progress, which assisted the Chamber of Commerce on the report, provided additional bad news on Bush's educational program.

by Faiz Shakir, Nico Pitney, Amanda Terkel, Payson Schwin, and Satyam Khanna

Behind the Curve

For the United States to succeed in a new era of global competitiveness, the next generation needs to be equipped for the intellectual demands of the modern workplace. An alarming new state-by-state assessment of our nation's education system indicates that the United States is failing to prepare a 21st century workforce (click here to see an interactive map that breaks down the data). The new report card, produced by the Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Center for American Progress, finds that there is not a single state in the country where a majority of 4th and 8th graders are proficient in math and reading. The report's aim is to identify both "leaders and laggards in the tough business of school performance" and to highlight the many areas needed for education improvement. The report card's conclusion is unambiguous: states need to do a far better job of monitoring and delivering quality schooling. As Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings noted recently, “The consensus for strengthening our high schools has never been stronger.” Progressives and conservatives are united around common goals for our education system -- better teaching, more innovation, better data, and better management. The report is one step in building the political will needed to "upend familiar arrangements and comfortable routines" and achieve much-needed reform.

WHO'S HOT AND WHO'S NOT: The study -- entitled "Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness" -- distributed grades for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., assessing each across nine different areas, including academic achievement of low-income and minority students, return on investment, rigor of standards, postsecondary and workforce readiness, 21st century teaching force and flexibility in management and policy. Massachusetts earned the top ranking overall, followed by Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Washington, D.C.'s school system ranked last in educational effectiveness, joined in the bottom tier with Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana, Hawaii, Nevada, West Virginia, California, and Oklahoma. The report does find some good news amidst its largely disturbing survey: the states with large percentages of low-income and minority students score far better than others on achievement tests. Florida, Kansas, Texas, and Virginia stand out as case studies for achieving success with large percentages of low-income and minority student populations.... Read more


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