The national debate over racial propaganda and sex education in elementary schools is important, but it is almost certainly less consequential than the continued failure of our K-12 schools to teach basic reading and math.
The people who defend and profit the most from the blatant status quo — the teachers’ union heavyweights and the Democratic politicians they primarily support — would much rather discuss critical race theory and Disney if it means we let’s not talk about the inability to ensure that elementary – school children perform at the academic level.
“For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of a generation will not surpass, equal, or even approach those of their parents.” This analysis was quoted in “A Nation at Risk”, a federal study of the American education system, published in 1983. Education spending, presented by the liberals as the keystone of the improvement in school results, then . Spending per student in many low-income urban districts is well above the national average. Nevertheless, school results continue to disappoint.
In New York, where the education budget is $38 billion and spending per student is more than double the national average, the school chancellor noted that two-thirds of black and Hispanic children don’t never achieve reading fluency. This revelation is all the more tragic when one realizes that a child who cannot read in third grade is much more likely to drop out of school, and school dropouts are much more likely to become drug addicts, single parents and violent criminals.
In Chicago, another city where spending per student exceeds the national average, only 24% of middle school students are proficient or above in reading and 21% in math. The link between poor schooling and high crime rates is obvious, but too many on the political left are fooling around and choosing to focus on systemic racism and police misconduct instead.
Even where schools appear to be making progress, studies have often found these improvements to be illusory. A U.S. Department of Education report released last month analyzed the transcripts of high school graduates from the class of 2019 and compared them to those of their peers over the previous 10 years. Recent graduates had taken more rigorous courses and achieved higher grade point averages, which felt like progress.
But when those top grades in math and science were compared to standardized test scores, something turned out to be wrong. Test scores were stable in science and declined in math, even among students who had taken the most rigorous courses, suggesting that over the past decade students had benefited from grade inflation rather than getting a better education. “Algebra 1 is not Algebra 1 just because it’s labeled Algebra 1,” said the education department official who announced the results.
These developments are even more disturbing in light of the Biden administration’s new attacks on school choice. Charter schools — independently run public schools — might be the best thing to happen to public education since Brown v. Board of Education. Teachers’ unions oppose it because most don’t want to be unionized, even though they have long enjoyed bipartisan support in Washington. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have expressed strong support for charter schools, but Mr. Biden wants to limit their growth, in the name of fairness, of course.
Under new Education Department rules proposed last month, it would make it harder for charter schools to receive federal grants. Applicants would have to prove that existing public schools are overcrowded, even if those schools have declining enrollment while charters have thousands of children on waiting lists. The new rules would also require charter schools to submit demographic data detailing the “racial and socioeconomic diversity of the charter school’s students and teachers and the charter school’s impact on racial and socioeconomic diversity.” -economic in the public school district”. This would limit the ability of charter schools to open in low-income minority neighborhoods, where they are most needed, are most popular and have the greatest impact.
If these rules had not been dictated to Department of Education officials by the American Federation of Teachers, they might as well have been. Unions spent heavily to elect Mr. Biden, and he is clearly returning the favor. Republicans are understandably concerned about the social justice agenda of the left seeping into our K-12 education system, and not making it an issue in the midterm elections would be a political blunder. . Yet it is the decades-long underperformance of public education and the ability of the left to stifle reform efforts that will ultimately have the greatest impact and deserve no less political attention.
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Appeared in the April 27, 2022 print edition.