Tag: Achievement Gaps

The Black Kids Are Shortchanged Everywhere

The Duval County school district serves the Jacksonville, Florida, area.  Jacksonville is much more typical of neighboring Georgia than of Florida.  It has a relatively small Hispanic population and a…

The Duval County school district serves the Jacksonville, Florida, area.  Jacksonville is much more typical of neighboring Georgia than of Florida.  It has a relatively small Hispanic population and a history of anti-Black racism dating back hundreds of years.  The district’s website proclaims recent good news:

Duval County Public Schools has emerged as a national leader in mathematics and reading outcomes on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) . . . “If this were the Olympics, you would say we medaled in almost every event,” said Superintendent Dr. Patricia Willis. “These results, in addition to our record-high graduation rate, reflect the incredible efforts of our students, our teachers, the district and our community.” . . .  “The new NAEP results confirm that Duval County is one of the highest performing big city school districts in the nation,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council for Great City Schools.

Those newly released 2017 NAEP eighth-grade reading assessments show that while 42 percent of White students in the Duval County public schools can read at grade level (proficient or above), the school system teaches less than half that percentage, 18 percent, of the Black students in its care, to read proficiently at the crucial grade 8 level. Or, looking at that from the other side, well over three-quarters of the Black students in the Duval County Public Schools are not taught to read proficiently.  Of those, nearly 90 percent of the male Black students in Jacksonville are not taught to read proficiently and nearly half of those can hardly read at all. We can take that as an indication of the preparation for life that is provided for Black children by the Duval County Public Schools. It is a rather unusual Olympic medal quality performance.

A primary driver of these racial disparities in educational achievement is not difficult to discover.  Quite some time ago a large-scale research project in Texas demonstrated that disparities in the rate of school discipline actions were based on the racial attitudes of school personnel, rather than the actions of students.  In the Duval County schools the rate at which out-of-school suspensions are given is eight percent for Black students, three percent for White students, a more than two-to-one disparity, which is a good measure of racial prejudice in action.  That happens to be approximately the disparity in reading proficiency.  Of course, correlation does not indicate causation.

There are consequences to this failure of the Duval district to teach most of their Black children, and nearly all of their male Black children, to read easily.

The Equality of Opportunity Project at Stanford University has studied intergenerational economic mobility by race and gender. According to the Equality of Opportunity Project, the average Black child in Jacksonville, whose household in the year 2000 had an income at or below the 25th percentile of all American households ($28,000, very poor) would probably have an income at the 31st percentile (just poor) by 2015, about $32,000.  The average White child in Jacksonville, living in a similarly deprived household in 2000, would have had an income at the 40th percentile in 2015, about $43,000: a nine point, $11,000, advantage for being White. While a Black child growing up in Jacksonville can expect to go up six steps on the economic mobility ladder (from very poor to merely poor), a White child can expect to go up fifteen steps, between two and three times as far and within hailing distance of the national median.

This comparative restriction of intergenerational economic mobility for Black residents of Jacksonville cannot be attributed solely to the fact that well over three-quarters of the Black students in the Duval County Public Schools are not taught to read proficiently, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?

Well, Jacksonville has a history of slavery, segregation and lynching.  We can look to the free state of Wisconsin for better news . . . can’t we? The answer is no.

The 2017 NAEP eight-grade reading assessment shows that while 33 percent of White students in the Milwaukee public schools can read at grade level (proficient or above), the school system teaches less than one-fifth of that percentage, six percent, of the Black students in its care to read proficiently at the crucial grade 8 level. Or, looking at that from the other side, well over 90 percent of the Black students in the Milwaukee public schools are not taught to read proficiently and of those, 96 percent of the male Black students in Milwaukee are not taught to read proficiently.  Nearly two-thirds of those can hardly read at all.  We can take that as an indication of the preparation for life that is provided for Black children by the Milwaukee Public Schools.  As to causation, the racial school discipline disparities in Milwaukee are similar to those in Jacksonville:  a Black student is more than twice as likely to be punished with an out-of-school suspension as is a White student.  In addition to being an indicator of adult racial attitudes, out-of-school suspensions are likely to lead to students falling behind in their studies and prematurely ending their educations:  dropping out.

No matter where you go, traditional districts are failing the descendants of enslaved Africans.

And as to consequences, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, the average Black child in Milwaukee, whose household in the year 2000 had an income at or below the 25th percentile of all American households (very poor) would probably have an income at the 36th percentile (poor) by 2015, about $38,000.  The average White child in Milwaukee, living in a similarly deprived household in 2000, would have had an income at the 50th percentile in 2015, about $56,000: a fourteen point, $18,000, advantage for being White. While a Black child growing up in Milwaukee can expect to go up eleven steps on the economic mobility ladder (from very poor to merely poor), a White child can expect to go up twenty-five steps, more than twice as far and pretty close to the national median.  White children growing up in severe poverty in Milwaukee can expect to participate in the American dream of dramatic economic mobility; the Black children living in that city cannot even dream of it.

Just as in Jacksonville.

Neither district is fulfilling its responsibility to educate all children.  The size of the racial gaps resulting from these failures are similar.  If disparities in school discipline rates are a valid measure of racism (which they are), that, too is similar.  And if the Equality of Opportunity Project’s calculations are correct, as they seem to be, the perhaps consequent restrictions on economic mobility for the Black residents of these two American cities will, similarly, continue from one generation to the next.

The Equality of Opportunity Project researchers point out that the Black/White racial economic disparities are not a result of factors under the control of Black Americans.  Rather, they are the result of factors, such as disparate incarceration rates and the school issues touched on above, that are under the control of the people running the criminal justice and school systems and other social, economic and political aspects of life in this country.  They are under the control of that governor, that mayor, this superintendent of schools, this judge and that chief of police in both Jacksonville and Milwaukee—and those in many other cities and towns in this great country.

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The Thanksgiving Prayer

Originally published on Thanksgiving 2014. On this day, Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Blessings upon our lives. More importantly, we thank You for the mighty men and women…

Originally published on Thanksgiving 2014.

On this day, Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Blessings upon our lives.

More importantly, we thank You for the mighty men and women who work for brighter futures for all of our children.

We are thankful for how You sustain the good and great teachers who work in our classrooms, to the talented school leaders who help them do powerful work in our classrooms.

We are grateful for how You support the Parent Power activists, the policy thinkers, and the builders of cultures of genius that nurture the futures of our kids.

We appreciate how You protect the activists who fight each day so that every child, no matter who they are or where they live, have opportunities for better lives.

We are filled with gratitude over how You give all of us the strength and bounty each day to stand for the children and communities who need our support the most.

As we thank You on this day, we also come to you with the burdens of our hearts, and to aid us on behalf of every boy and girl.

We petition You, Lord, to protect every child who goes without, to provide to every parent struggling to give their kin all they need, to bring transformers for children to every neighborhood.

We ask You, Creator, to give peace beyond understanding to every mother and father who is grieving, to bring hope and light to every place beset by the tears and sorrow brought by evil.

We request from You, Father, the wisdom and energy to continue bending the arc of history toward progress, to help America live up to its place as the City Upon a Hill, to honestly address the ills of the past so everyone can move forward.

We beseech You, God, to help us be the shepherds to our youth that You are to us, to be more like Your Son in every word and deed, to sacrifice as You and Christ did so long ago to grant us salvation from our sins.

And each day, we remember the prayer that Your Son taught us long ago…

Our Father, thou art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.

For ever and ever.

Amen.

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Missouri Fails All Children

These days, the Show Me State demonstrates a lot of things to people. Few of them any good. Yet none of the black eyes it has gotten compared to the…

These days, the Show Me State demonstrates a lot of things to people. Few of them any good. Yet none of the black eyes it has gotten compared to the damage its public education systems are doing to its children.

The latest stain on the states reputation can be seen in St. Louis, where protests against police brutality after Circuit Court Judge Timothy Wilson let former Police Officer Jason Stockley off the hook for murdering Anthony Lamar Smith is a reminder of the slaying of Michael Brown by another rogue cop in nearby Ferguson three years ago. The arrests of protestors and journalists by the Gateway City’s police department — as well as  arrogant chants ““Whose streets? Our streets” by those officers — has justified the NAACP’s move earlier this year to tell Black men and women to avoid the state like the plague.

But the biggest stain on Missouri’s present reputation has less to do with rogue cops and police misconduct and more with the low quality of its public education systems. Especially in St. Louis, where the (often state-controlled) districts within the city and county have become infamous for overusing harsh school discipline, providing few opportunities for high quality education, criminalizing the lives of youth, and restricting the ability of poor and minority children to escape the failure mills that litter the landscape. But as a Dropout Nation analysis shows, St. Louis merely mirrors the woeful lack of opportunities for the kind of college-preparatory courses children need for lifelong success.

Just 13.7 percent of the 292,558 children attending Missouri’s high schools took calculus, trigonometry and other forms of advanced mathematics in 2013-2104, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. The woeful levels cut across nearly all socioeconomic backgrounds. Black children suffered the worst with just one out of every 10 taking calculus and advanced math that year. But White children did little better, with only 13.9 percent taking college-level mathematics; a mere 11.4 percent of Latino students, 13.5 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native peers, and 33.6 percent of Asian children taking those courses in the year surveyed.

The Show Me State does even worse in providing Advanced Placement courses that help prepare children for the rigors of higher education. Just 10.5 percent of all Missouri high-schoolers took AP courses in 2013-2104. This includes a mere 8.7 percent of Black students, 9.6 percent of Native peers, 10.3 percent of Latino high schoolers, and 10.4 percent of White students. Only Asian students were provided AP courses at high levels, with 26.7 percent of them taking those college-level classes that year. [Just six-tenths of one percent of all Show Me State high school students took International Baccalaureate courses, the other college preparatory coursework of choice for America’s students.]

Things get little better when it comes to physics, a science course that helps children gain preparation to take on higher ed classes that lead to high-paying careers in science and technology. Just 8.9 percent of high school students in Missouri took physics in 2013-2014. This is one area in which White students do worse than their minority counterparts. Just 7.8 percent of White high schoolers took physics versus 9.5 percent of Native students, 12 percent of Latino peers, 12.1 percent of Black students, and 17.4 percent of Asian peers.

The rationing of opportunity, of course begins long before children reach high school and can be seen in the middle school years in the numbers taking Algebra 1, a key course for college preparation. Just 11.8 percent of all Show Me State middle schoolers took Algebra 1 in 2013-2014. Again, Black children are failed miserably, with just 9.9 percent taking Algebra 1. But children from other backgrounds do little better. Only 10.4 percent of Latino middle school students, 11 percent of Native peers, 11.8 percent of White students, and 22.3 percent of Asian peers took Algebra 1 that year.

The path to denying opportunity begins in Missouri’s elementary schools, where children  (especially those from poor and minority households) are denied by teachers and guidance counselors into the gateways into what traditional districts consider to be higher levels of teaching and curricula.

Just 4.4 percent of Show Me State students are taking gifted-and-talented course. Certainly gifted-and-talented programs are questionable in their quality (as well as being a legacy of ability tracking, IQ testing frauds, and the other forms of racialism that began in the 20th century as a result of the belief that only some children are capable of learning at high levels). But they are also one of the few avenues children have for getting some semblance of high-quality education.

Oddly enough, Black children are twice as likely to gain entry into gifted-and-talented programs than White peers, with 10.4 percent of Black children in such pathways in 2013-2014 compared to just 4.6 percent of White students. This may be a result of the fact that Missouri’s rural and small town districts, which serve the bulk of the state’s White children, don’t provide such gateways. Meanwhile, just 34 percent of Latino students, 4.7 percent of Native peers, and 22.9 percent of Asian students were in gifted-and-talented programs.

An even bigger problem: That far too many children are far more likely to be condemned by districts into special ed ghettos. Thirteen-point-seven percent of Show Me State students are condemned to special ed in 2013-2014, all but guaranteeing that they will not get high-quality teaching and curricula. Black and White children are particularly prone to being condemned to special ed ghettos, with, respectively 14.7 percent and 14.5 percent being placed there compared to 3.3 percent of Asian students, five percent of Native peers, and 8.7 percent of Latino children.

There are plenty of reasons for people in St. Louis and the rest of Missouri to protest. Police brutality is one. Educational abuse is the other.

Put simply: Children in Missouri are far more-likely to end up in special ed than taking gifted-and-talented programs or any other opportunity for high-quality education. Latino and White children, for example are respectively, two and three times more likely to end up in special ed than in gifted-and-talented gateways.

One of the underlying culprits lie with the Show Me State’s failure to adequately finance college-preparatory opportunities within traditional districts. While the states provides some funds for offering AP courses, it is dwarfed by the sums spent on special education. In 2015-2016, for example, the state spent a mere $415,875 on AP (as well as dual enrollment) courses, while spending $411.5 million on special ed. An additional complication will come in the next few years thanks to the federal government’s move two years to consolidate funds used to finance AP courses for poor and minority students into a block grant, effectively making it harder for districts to offer high-quality opportunities to their most-vulnerable children.

Meanwhile the state has done little to expand the number of public charter schools serving children of all backgrounds. Just 52 charters operate in the Show Me State in 2015-2016, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, all of them in St. Louis and Kansas City because of their status as failure mills. Given that Missouri children attending charter schools gain an additional 22 days of learning in math and 14 additional days of learning in reading (according to Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes), the lack of high-quality charters hurts both children in big city and rural communities who need help. The efforts to

Making things even worse was the state’s decision three years ago to ditch Common Core’s reading and math standards. This move, a result of opposition from movement conservatives in the Show Me State, denied all children (including those who are poor and White as well as Black and Latino) the comprehensive knowledge they need to be prepared for college-preparatory coursework, and ultimately, for the rigors of coursework in the traditional colleges, technical schools, and apprenticeships that make up American higher education.

The Show Me State’s political and educational leaders — including current Gov. Eric Greitens and his predecessor, Jay Nixon — deserve to bow their heads in shame for the educational abuse and neglect they are perpetrating on all of the children in the state’s public education systems. More importantly, these officials need to expand opportunities for all of those children to gain the knowledge critical to their future success as well as that of the state. Until then, the rogue policing tolerated in Missouri will be merely its most-public embarrassment.

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Education the Military Way

We need not rely on thought experiments in order to visualize a more equitable system of education in the United States. There is the school system managed by the Department…

We need not rely on thought experiments in order to visualize a more equitable system of education in the United States. There is the school system managed by the Department of Defense, a global pre-kindergarten to 12th grade education system serving over 73,000 students. It is, in effect, the nation’s 45th largest school district.

Since President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the military, the nation’s armed forces have progressed from being one of the most segregated to being one of the best-integrated areas of American society. This is not to say that there are not racists in the military, there are, of course, but the absence of systematic racism in the armed forces is exemplary for the rest of our society and has a profound effect on educational opportunities for the children of African-American military families.

There are 1.3 million active duty military personal, of whom 17 percent are Black or African-American, a slightly larger percentage than in the general population. Nineteen percent (206,227) of enlisted personnel are Black as are nine percent (21,921) of officers (2014). We can assume, then, that by and large, decisions in the military, including decisions about the schools of the Department of Defense, are most likely to be taken by White, non-Hispanics.  Very few (less than one percent) of military personnel are without a high school diploma or GED.  Ninety-two percent of enlisted personnel have a high school diploma or equivalent; six  percent have Bachelor’s degrees; 1 percent have more advanced educations. Among officers, the distribution of educational attainment is reversed: 7 percent officers have only a high school diploma or equivalent; 43 percent have Bachelor’s degrees and 41 percent have more advanced educational qualifications.

More than a third (38 percent) of military personnel are married with children, while just 6 percent are single with children. The approximate average annual income of enlisted personnel is $40,400, that of officers $81,000, which gives an average annual income for African-American military personnel of $44,300. In sum, the typical African-American member of the military is more likely to have completed secondary school, but less likely to have postsecondary degrees, has a higher individual income and if a parent is more likely to be married than a member of the general African-American population.

If we look at National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results for the key eighth grade reading indicator, incomplete as they are for kids in special ed, we find that over-all, the Department of Defense schools outcomes are considerably better than those for public schools in general, with less than half the percentage of students at the Below Basic level (10 percent v. 25 percent) and 50 percent more at the proficient and above level (47 percent v. 32 percent). Disaggregating these results by race, we find that among White, non-Hispanic, students, the Department of Defense schools again have better, if less dramatic, outcomes:  52 percent v. 42 percent testing at proficient or above; nine percent v. 16 percent testing at below basic. However, the picture for Black students is dramatic, with less than a quarter of those that in the general population test at the below basic level (10 percent v. 42 percent), between two and three times as many at the proficient and above level (38 percent v. 15 percent). Interestingly, the Department of Defense schools results for Black students are approximately the same as those for White, non-Hispanic, students in the nation’s public schools.

The overall difference, then, between the outcomes for eighth grade reading between the Department of Defense schools and the nation’s public schools in general is the strikingly superior performance of the Department of Defense schools in regard to their Black students. To what should this be attributed?  If we look at the adult education and income data, there does not seem to be an obvious causal factor. Parental education differences are pretty much a wash: Black military adults are less likely to have quit school before receiving a diploma, but also less likely to have a Bachelor’s degree or above than other African-Americans. African-American military personnel have higher individual incomes and slightly higher family incomes than the general African-American population (perhaps because all are, by definition, employed).

However, while Black students in Department of Defense schools score at the proficient or above level 38 percent of the time, Black students ineligible for the National Lunch Program (that is, with middle class incomes) in all national public schools do so just 26 percent of the time, therefore family income explains only part of the difference. Nineteen percent of Black students, nationally, who respond to NAEP indicating that they live in home with a father, are at the proficient or above level, compared to 12 percent who give no response. (This is less of a difference than that for White, non-Hispanic, students, where the percentages are 46 percent and 32 percent.) As this probably correlates with income, again it does not seem to explain the difference between the outcomes of Department of Defense and other public schools.

This leaves us with what is usually called “school culture.”  In other words, it is probable that the Department of Defense schools partake of the general, official, anti-racist culture of the military. They give Black and White students equal educational opportunities, equal access to educational resources, and given those, race ceases to be a determining factor in educational achievement. There is a lesson there for America’s non-military traditional districts and other school operators.

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End Maryland’s Indifference to Black Children

Below are prepared remarks by your editor for a panel at a confab hosted yesterday by Faith Leaders for Excellent Schools’, a coalition of pastors in Baltimore working to transform…

Below are prepared remarks by your editor for a panel at a confab hosted yesterday by Faith Leaders for Excellent Schools’, a coalition of pastors in Baltimore working to transform public education in both Charm City and the nation. The event, which featured former U.S. Secretary of Education-turned-Education Trust President John B. King, FLES cofounder and Maryland State Board of Education Board Member Pastor Michael Phillips, and Baltimore City Schools Chief Executive Sonja Brookins Santelises, focused on helping pastors and others understand what they must do for kids in order to make the state fulfill its obligations under the Every Student Succeeds Act as well as address school finance. 

Good morning! It is great to see all of you champions for our children. You are already working to transform our communities and the world for our children and families, and serve the least of us as the Beatitudes command. I am here to help you gain perspective on the issues in education here in Maryland that need to be addressed so that all of our people get the knowledge they need to survive.

As Secretary King has noted, the current administration has little concern for our children, especially our Black children. I go further and say that this is a regime bent on committing educational genocide and, when it comes to our immigrant children, what can only be called low-grade ethnic cleansing. We are a nation in moral and political crisis.

But I always say that the problem isn’t the active bigotry and evil of the very few. This administration is the very few. The problem lies with the vast indifference of the unhuddled masses to the futures of children and communities not their own. It is the failure of all of us to remember, as Hezekiah Walker would tell, to pray for you, to pray for me, to love each other, we need you to survive.

The evil may be in Washington, But the indifference is happening here in Maryland, in our very own communities, and it has been happening long before the current Occupant of the White House took office. It is rooted both in the legacies of the bigotry that is America’s Original Sin, and, at the same time, a result of current policy decision that are harmful to our children.

I think about a farmer named John Hawkins, who is buried in Sacred Heart Church in Bowie, where I live. He was born into slavery in 1832 and spent his first three decades of live without freedom or education. By 1870, when the U.S. Census was taken that year, John had to admit that he never learned to read or write. All because systems and people made decisions to deny him the gateways to the world.

John would eventually learn to read and died in 1912 literate and as free as they allowed Black people to be back then. But imagine what his life would have been if he had free to live, free to learn, and given access to high-quality education for the time to maximize that freedom

Today in Baltimore and in Maryland, we have plenty of Johns and Janes in our schools and in our communities. They weren’t born into chattel slavery. But thanks to legacies of the past and decisions made by people today, these young people have been denied knowledge that can help them build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Maryland leaders lie about how well children are being educated, especially Black children often been wrongly placed into special education because they can’t read. Over the years, the state has excluded as many as 60 percent of special ed students from the nation’s chief exam of measuring how schools educate children.

This means Maryland lies to parents, to caring adults, to faith leaders just like you. Even worse, its leaders lie to children who deserve great teachers and comprehensive curricula.

Maryland leaders lie about the opportunities our children have to gain high-quality learning. Districts here provided calculus, trigonometry and other higher levels of math to 18 percent of Black high school students. Districts in Maryland provided Advanced Placement courses to just 16 percent of Black high school students.

Your editor (right), along with former U.S. Secretary of Education John King, Sonja Brookins Santelises of Baltimore City Public Schools, and Pastor Michael Phillips of Faith Leaders for Excellent Schools discuss transforming public education for the state’s Black and other minority children.

Most Black children in Maryland are ill-prepared to graduate from college or technical schools or apprenticeship programs. They have been condemned to poverty and despair.

Maryland leaders lie about the roles families and communities can play both within schools and in the decisions being made in Annapolis about what we should know about how well our schools are serving children. The state just passed a law effectively allowing many schools to continue failing our kids, and make it difficult for us to do anything about it.

Maryland leaders are keeping people like you, faith leaders, from transforming schools and systems on behalf of the children who sit in your pews — and those who are outside on our streets.

Finally, Maryland leaders lie about how they want Black children to be treated. They may talk about their concern for them. But they support harsh school discipline policies that keep them from learning — and worse, don’t address the learning issues often at the heart of bad behavior. There is no reason why thousands of Baltimore City Black children are suspended, expelled, arrested, and sent to courts year after year after year.

The solutions to this crisis in education require the hearts and hands and voices of many people. This includes faith leaders such as you. This is because you touch all of the men and women in our communities who are the messengers we need to demand high-quality education for our children, the villagers who raise all of our kids.

Your churches are home to Divine Nine fraternity and sorority meetings. Politicians come to your doors t solicit support. You are the only ones who will be in these communities long after teachers leave and superintendents move on to greener pastures. You have power that only those called by God can wield.

All of us, from faith leaders to those in and out of the pews, must be the ones who knock down the doors and are in the meetings where policy is being made. Because, as they say, if you aren’t at the table, you are the menu. And throughout history Black people aren’t the apple pies decision-makers enjoy eating, but the broccoli they throw into the trash.

We cannot be surprised that school reformers, especially some folks on our state board of education, didn’t solicit us earlier this year in the fight against eviscerating school accountability. They have never thought about including us in crafting policy. Same is true for those who defend the policies and practices that have damaged generation after generation after generation of Black children in our state. Our children and communities are the furthest from their minds.

Because we know that our concerns aren’t necessarily those of the people at the state capital, we have to stick our noses into the rooms and stick our necks out for all of our children. The children who are our own by birth. The children who we never birthed or conceived. Even the children we will never see in the pews and never know by name.

We have to ask every child we meet how they are doing in school. We have to demand teachers, principals, even superintendents, to show, not tell, how they are helping build brighter futures for all of our children. Particularly as faith leaders, you must organize, work the corridors of power, feed the children intellectually, spiritually, and physically, and advocate tirelessly.

Because as Christ commands, when we do for the least of us, for the most-vulnerable of us, we are also doing for Him. We must end the vast indifference of the unhuddled masses. Which means we must be few who galvanize the many to transform schools and systems and futures for children on behalf of He who created us.

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America’s Woeful Public Schools: PISA Shows That We Are Falling Behind Internationally


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17th The rank of America’s 15-year-olds in reading literacy rank among 65 countries that participated in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, one of the premiere benchmarks of student…

17th

The rank of America’s 15-year-olds in reading literacy rank among 65 countries that participated in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, one of the premiere benchmarks of student achievement. The nation’s average score of 500 ranked behind Shanghai (China), South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong and sixteen other countries — and just ahead of tiny Liechtenstein and Sweden.

24th

The rank of America’s 15-year-olds on the math literacy portion of PISA. The average score of 487 was nine points lower than the average PISA score.

27

The percentage of American students scoring at the highest level of proficiency on PISA. That’s lower than the 32 percent average for the 33 OECD countries participating in the exam.

488

The average reading score for American males on the reading portion of PISA; that’s 25 points lower than the average reading score for their female peers. As a country, American males would rank 28th in the world, immediately behind the U.K., Hungary and Portugal.

466

The average PISA reading score for Latino students; as a country, the performance of Latino students would rank 41st in the world, behind Israel, Luxembourg, Austria and Lithuania.

441

The average PISA reading score for black students; as a country, that would rank 46th, behind Russia, Chile and Serbia.

The nation’s poor performance on PISA exemplifies the failures of reading instruction, laggard curricula and the overall culture of mediocrity within American public education. If we do not improve how we recruit, train and compensate teachers,  develop more-rigorous curricula and standards, and develop a culture of genius within our schools, the gender, racial and economic achievement gaps will continue to grow. It’s that simple.

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