Friday, November 20, 2009

Is it good for the kids?

Gene R. Carter, Executive Director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ( which I have been a member of for over 30 years) says
"If policymakers made decisions by first asking, What works best for children?, they would redefine what a successful learner is and how we measure success. Parents know what they want for their children. A child who enters school in good health and feels safe and connected to her school is ready to learn. A student who has at least one adult in school who understands his social and emotional development is more likely to stay in school. Students who have access to challenging academic programs are better prepared for further education, work, and civic life. These components must work together. This should be the goal of everyone whose job is to create education policies and practices to adequately prepare our children for their futures.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered some sobering statistics on why reauthorization of ESEA cannot wait:

27 percent of America's young people drop out of high school.
Recent international tests in math and science show our students trail their peers in other countries.
Just 40 percent of young people earn a two-year or four-year college degree.
The U.S. now ranks 10th in the world in the rate of college completion for 25- to 34-year-olds.

Duncan urges us all to "roll up our sleeves and work together and get beyond differences of party, politics and philosophy." ASCD members agree that reform of our nation's education law cannot wait. We stand ready to do our part. We advocate for the federal government to play a leadership role in equity and access for disadvantaged and special-needs student populations, support the development and training of highly effective educators, promote effective education policies and services for every stage of a student's development, and promote innovative strategies and programs for 21st century students to be successful.

ASCD members across the United States deserve an answer from each of their elected officials to the following question: Where do you stand on education?"

Response by Duane Campbell
Well, Duncan is mostly correct.
The claim that recent tests reveal that U.S. students lag behind students in other countries is partially correct and partially distorted.
As Gerald Bracey points out in Education Hell: Rhetoric Vs. Reality , Transforming the Fire Consuming America's Schools. (2009)
If you remove the schools serving the lowest income 25% of U.S. students, then the remaining students perform as well or better than schools anywhere in the world.
Why remove this group? Because the U.S. has one of the highest poverty rates for children in the world and some of the weakest supports for using the schools to combat this poverty.
See other reviews of Arne Duncan's Race to the Top on this blog.
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