"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Silent, Silent Epidemic

Updated 03.03.06

They're calling it "The Silent Epidemic." It's the latest study, courtesy of Civic Enterprises and funded by the Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation, being used to push the pro-voucher, faith-based attack on public schools. This time, the new spin on this groundbreaking study is students are dropping out because public schools are too boring and don't expect enough of them. The Christian Science Monitor , like the other herd of sheep that now constitute the news media, regurgitates the Civic Enterprises press release masquerading as a news story:
Now, a new survey, released Thursday, suggests that the problem, while deep, can be fixed. Most students don't drop out because they can't do the work. Nearly 90 percent had passing grades when they left school, according to the survey of dropouts by Civic Enterprises. Their major reason for opting out? The classes were too boring.

"We've gone in and talked face to face with kids who have dropped out of school. What they're telling us debunks popular assumptions," says John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises and one of the authors of the survey. "The problem is solvable."
The headline in USA Today reads, "Dropouts Say Their Schools Expected Too Little of Them." It's got that soft bigotry of low expectations echo that's been working like a charm.

The real silent epidemic, however (not the fake one being used to put fear in the hearts and minds of the American public) is the dangerous right wing fascists working diligently to place that last nail in the coffin of public school education.

What's Jay Greene's solution for these poor black and hispanic kids? Yes, you guessed it, more accountability (tests) and more choices (private and parochial school).
"It is a mistake to treat the dropout problem as a fundamentally different kind of problem than other problems in our schools - it's a different symptom of the same disease," says Jay Greene, head of the department of education reform at the University of Arkansas and author of several dropout studies. Professor Greene believes the only way to significantly lower the dropout rate is to raise academic skills - whether through accountability or school-choice programs.
Dropouts are now a symptom of the disease and the disease is public schools. What the Wal-Mart professor, Jay Greene, does not say is his own research shows that the ten states with the highest dropout rates all have high-school exit exams, and 9 of them have had the tests for more than 10 year.

You've got to hand it to these guys--they are relentless in their attacks and always coming up with new and creative ways to destroy and bash public education. And, of course, the remedies they offer are most often the cause of the problem to begin with. Did I mention that all the 20 states with high school exit exams are the highest in populations of black and brown people? Here are some numbers for you, Jay:

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of African-Americans, 9 have high school exit exams.
Mississippi (1989)
Louisiana* (1991)
South Carolina* (1990)
Georgia* (1994)
Maryland (1982)
Alabama (1985)
North Carolina* (1982)
Virginia (1986)
Delaware* (No HS Test)
Tennessee (1986)
* 5 of these states are among the 10 states that use tests to determine promotion in other grades.

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of Hispanics or Latinos, 8 have high school exit exams.
New Mexico* (1990)
California* (2006)
Texas* (1987)
Arizona (2006)
Nevada (1981)
Colorado (no test)
Florida* (1979)
New York* (1980)
New Jersey (1985)
Illinois (no test)
* 5 of these states make up the remainder of the 10 states to use tests to determine promotion in other grades.

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of whites, 1 has exit exams. None uses tests to determine promotion in other grades.
Maine (no HS test)
Vermont (no HS test)
New Hampshire (no HS test)
W. Virginia (no HS test)
Iowa (no HS test)
North Dakota (no HS test)
Montana (no HS test)
Kentucky (no HS test)
Wyoming (no HS test
Minnesota (2000)

Of the 10 states with the lowest graduation rates, all 10 have high school exit exams. Nine (9) of these states have had exit exams for more than 10 years.
Georgia (1994)
Nevada (1981)
Florida (1979)
Arizona (2006)
Tennessee (1986)
S. Carolina (1990)
Mississippi (1989)
Alabama (1985)
North Carolina (1982)
New Mexico (1990)

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