What’s A Few Percent Among Friends?

Now that the infamous “fail wail” is back in the news via today’s Times story pointing out that the administration’s estimate of the number of schools that wouldn’t make “adequate yearly progress” was wildly off it’s worth remembering two pieces of context that this TIME column from this spring tried to address. First, while the number wasn’t valid the underlying goal was: Prod action on No Child Left Behind reauthorization at a time that probably was the point of no return in terms of getting it done before 2013.  Second, when you look at the data is 48 percent of schools missing targets really all that surprising?  Plenty of good schools, of course, but let’s see, six in ten minority students not finishing high school, 8 percent of low-income students getting a B.A. by age 24, four grade-level gaps in achievement on the NAEP by high school, poor outcomes for kids in special education programs and students whose first language is not English…And all those students are not concentrated into just a few schools, these issues affect all communities.  So is anyone seriously surprised that a lot of schools need to do better?  The No Child law’s accountability system needs to be modified, of course, – it’s almost a decade old – but don’t shoot the messenger too much and don’t let the problems with the law obscure the underlying context about what’s happening in our schools to too many kids.

5 Replies to “What’s A Few Percent Among Friends?”

  1. Why is it that almost no discussion of education includes a discussion of vocational education? Of all the jobs available in the US, only about 30+% require a 4 year degree. About 60% require some additional education or training. The jobs skills provided by vocational education are absolutely necessary to our economy. Many pay quite well, and the training or education needed to develope these skills don’t lead to massive student loan problems, and I won’t mention that those with vocational skills can enter the job market years earlier.

    I really think we are doing many students and parents a disservice by not mentioning this alternative career path.

  2. Don: Good point. Having worked in schools with many students who were unlikely (for a variety of reasons) to attend a four-year college, I always wondered why there was not more emphasis placed on other careers they could pursue. Many of these careers (electricians, plumbers, etc.) are very stable and lucrative — it’s not as if we’re telling the kids they have to either go to college or shovel dirt. We need to address the realities of the current job market and student interests — not pretend everyone can get a job as a Harvard professor (or would want to do so).

  3. Maria,
    What we have gotten is that the ways of Michelle Johnson or Joel Klein are not the way to go as they have failed to substantially improved the education of the urban poor.

  4. Just a guess on the vocational ed. My large urban district does have it but we don’t have huge discussions around it. Maybe votech education has already been outsourced to private “colleges”–I can’t watch my teevee more than one or two hours before I see an add for online degree programs at some kind of newfangled college. How long before this new version of higher education becomes a model for public P-12?

    Oh, snap. It already has.

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