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

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cracking Down or Cracking Up in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the latest to fall under the unacknowledged racist spell of high school exit exams as a way to save state standards from slipping down the toilet bowl. With no apparent interest in the poor kids in wrecked neighborhoods who are slipping down the toilet with the standards the Governor wishes to preserve, Governor Rendell's (D) new commission report appears intent upon compounding the disadvantages of poor kids by mandating a graduation test that only the disadvantaged will fail. Either that, or drop out of school before being forced to acknowledge the failure that these kids' poverty assures.

It is interesting to note that there is nothing in this plan to address the income gap (the achievement gap) or to even to add resources to the schools where the state standards are apparently most jeopardized. What is included in the report is a recommendation for a robust data tracking system, which will track poor kids' failures from kindergarten into high school and beyond, so that when they do drop out or fail to pass the test, the authorities (and the military?) can be alerted. Unless our fascination with social engineering is somehow curbed, I would expect these pushouts and dropouts to be forced into GED camps, where they earn a credential to allow them into the front lines of an overworked military.

Here is a fact that Governor Rendell might find relevant if he were interested: 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.

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