America’s Woeful Public Schools: Milwaukee Fails to Prepare Kids for the Future
The percentage of Milwaukee’s American Indian and Alaska Native seventh- and eighth-graders who took Algebra 1, a key course for becoming college- and career-ready, during the 2009-1010 school year. This is lower than the seven-tenths of one-percent rate for Latino counterparts, the one percent rate for white students, 31. percent rate for black students, and six percent rate for Asian schoolmates. Altogether, just 2.4 percent of Milwaukee’s seventh- and eighth-graders took Algebra 1.
The percentage of all Milwaukee high school students who took trigonometry, statistics, precalculus or other forms of advanced mathematics. This includes 13 percent of white high school students — the highest percentage of kids who took advanced mathematics by racial or ethnic background — a mere three percent of Native students, and less than one percent of Asian, Latino, and black students.
One-Tenth of One Percent
The percentage of black high schoolers — a mere 20 of them — who took advanced mathematics. This, in spite of the fact that black students make up 6 percent of Milwaukee high school students.
The percentage of black, Asian and Native high school students who took calculus, another key course for preparing for the traditional college, technical school, or apprenticeships that make up higher education. Just 2.1 percent of white students took calculus. All in all, less than two-tenths of one percent of Milwaukee’s high schoolers took this important college prep course.
The percentage of Milwaukee high school students who took chemistry, another critical college prep course. This includes eight percent of white students, six-tenths of Latino students, four-tenths of one percent of Asian students, seven-hundredths of one percent of black students, and no Native students whatsoever.
Four-Tenths of One Percent
The percentage of Milwaukee high schoolers who took physics. This includes three percent of white students, one-tenth of one percent of Latino students, and no Black, Asian, or Native high school students.
The percentage of all Milwaukee high school students who took Advanced Placement courses. This includes 14 percent of Asian students, seven percent of white students, and five percent of Latino, black, and Native students.
The percentage of all students who took International Baccalaureate courses. Just one in 10 white students, six percent of Asian students, 3.2 percent of Latino student, three percent of black students, and 2.6 percent of Native students took this set of college preparatory courses.
The five-year graduation rate for Milwaukee’s young men (based on eighth-grade enrollment) in the Class of 2010. That is lower 20 points lower than the 70 percent five-year graduation rate for the district’s young women students. Milwaukee handed out 580 more high school diplomas to young women than to their young men counterparts.
The five-year graduation rate for Milwaukee’s young Latino men in Milwaukee’s Class of 2010. The graduation rate is 19 points lower than that for their young Latino women schoolmates — and far below the 67 percent graduation rate for young Asian women, the 68 percent graduation rate for young black women, the 94 percent graduation rate for young white women, and the 100 percent graduation rate for young Native women. It is also lower than the 45 percent graduation rate for young black men, the 67 percent graduation rate for young American Indian and Alaska Native men counterparts, the 68 percent graduation rate for Asian men, and the 78 percent graduation rate for young white men.
If you wonder why the traditional district model should be scrapped into the ashbin of educational history (as well as why Common Core standards are necessary for advancing systemic reform), just look at how poorly Milwaukee does in preparing its students for lifelong success. The district’s five-year graduation rate of 61 percent for its Class of 2010 (as calculated by Dropout Nation based on data from the U.S. Department of Education) makes it a mega-failure mill; it is likely that 2,041 eighth-graders originally in the Class of 2010 dropped out. Few children under the district’s care get the kind of college-preparatory education they need to complete any form of higher education. And when it comes to young men, Milwaukee does little to keep them on the path to graduation. This isn’t surprising: As with so many districts, Milwaukee has continued to embrace the rationing of education — driven by a view that only some kids (usually not white or middle class) can master college-preparatory work — that damns so many children to low expectations.
Howard Fuller, former state legislator Polly Williams, and former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist were right three decades ago to successfully push for the nation’s first school voucher program, which has helped thousands of Beer City kids escape the traditional district. But more still needs to be done to help all Milwaukee kids get high-quality education. A move by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to break apart the district — and embracing the Hollywood Model of Education — would be one critical step towards making this a reality; putting the district under control of its mayor may be another. Either way, this state of emergency in the Cream City is not acceptable. No child should have their futures condemned by a failing district.