The senseless deaths of youth must stop. It's just that simple.

What is happening today in the dropout nation — or what has been happening while your editor has been on the road:

  1. Amid last week’s woeful responses to the reading test results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Education Sector’s Chad Alderman offers a different perspective. He notes that if you break down the results — and realize that the underlying sampling now includes more blacks and Latinos (in order to better represent the nation), one will see some real progress. Black 4th-graders, for example, scored 23 points higher than fellow students in the same grade four years ago. This is all good. But a more-longitudinal assessment — showing progress among students between being in 4th and 8th grade — would certainly offer more perspective on the nation’s academic progress.
  2. Meanwhile the Bluegrass Institute’s Richard Innes notes that Kentucky’s NAEP performance may seem better than that of California, but appearances are deceiving. Especially when Kentucky’s education officials suppresses 46 percent of its English Language Learners and special ed students. Declares Innes: “only two other states in the entire country played the exclusion game harder.”
  3. Those two states, according to Dropout Nation‘s analysis: Maryland and Tennessee , which respectively excluded 57 percent and 55 percent of their ELL and Special Ed students. Which may explain why Maryland, in particular, is among the most-stubborn in resisting school reform efforts (and always seem to be the best-performing state in the union). New Jersey, which excludes 42 percent of ELL and Special Ed students, is no better, and neither is Delaware (it excludes 42 percent of ELL and Special Ed students); North Dakota excluded 44 percent of students while Ohio excluded 40 percent of its ELL and Special Ed students from NAEP. Certainly this dishonor role deserves much in the way of scorn; it also offers more ammunition to opponents of Common Core State Standards and other attempts at putting the nation under one national curricula standard.
  4. Speaking of scorn, two more deserving of it are the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local and the Big Apple branch of the NAACP. They succeeded in convincing one judge to halt the shutdown of 19 of the city’s worst-performing schools and their replacement with higher-quality options. As Chancellor Joel Klein rightly notes: ““My view is that you don’t send students to failing schools, schools that can’t provide them what they need. The sad thing is that the union would bring a lawsuit to resign kids to failing schools in order to save jobs. And ultimately, that is what this is about.” Exactly. Shame on the two groups and those who support their position.
  5. Tom Vander Ark offers some thoughts on how to develop high-quality urban schools through a portfolio approach.
  6. Meanwhile in Chicago, the Black Star Project is looking for 1,000 men to help mentor the city’s children and keep them out of violence. Given that 143 Chicago Public School students have been shot during the 2009-2010 school year (and 20 slain), the need for adults to take to the schools and take action is greater than ever. Do your part.

Check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, this time a part two of my focus steps needed to improve teacher quality. More will be coming down the pipe later this week.

And finally, to start off your Monday, here’s a little Tower of Power. Enjoy.