Threats to Public Education
The following post was written by Thomas Beebe, Project Manager for Opportunity to Learn - Wisconsin. The post was originally published on the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools website, and is reprinted here with his permission.
Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers was in Milwaukee, Sept. 26, to discuss with educators, students, parents, and community members “what to expect when you’re expecting more budget cuts.”
During Tuesday night's State of the Union Address, President Obama touched on education issues at several points in his speech. The Schott Foundation for Public Education today released its response to the President's education message:
Robert Balfanz and his colleagues have drawn our attention to high schools where nearly half of students do not graduate with their peers. The enrollment in these schools is overwhelmingly Black and Hispanic, and the concentration of Black students in urban drop-out factories is a significant contributor to the nation’s low educational attainment for male Black students and the wide achievement gap between these most vulnerable students and others.
The headline is: Florida High School Graduation Rate is Highest Ever.
The Orlando Sentinel has reported that the Florida State Department of Education has announced that the state’s graduation rate is now 80.1 percent. The graduation rate for Hispanics is 77.3 percent and that for Black students is 68.4 percent.
These are extraordinary numbers.
Just how extraordinary are they? The newspaper notes that:
There are two items in the press today (Dec. 12) that offer first a diagnosis of the ills of American public schools and then a prescription.
Two very different stories have been duking it out in Wisconsin newspaper articles, editorial pages and airwaves in the aftermath of Gov. Scott Walker’s $1.6 billion cut to the state’s public schools.
In one corner is Walker himself. Reacting to suggestions that the quality of the state’s public schools will be hurt by the largest cut to education in the state’s history, Walker has defied logic by repeatedly saying that Wisconsin schools will be "the same or better" as a result of the cuts.
While it might seem encouraging for education and civil rights leaders to assert that poverty isn’t an obstacle to higher student achievement, the evidence does not support such claims. Over 50 years, numerous studies have documented how poverty and related social conditions – such as lack of access to health care, early childhood education and stable housing – affect child development and student achievement.
Chicago education officials will vote today on the fate of 54 public schools slated for closure. The vote comes after several weeks of inspiring actions, including city-wide student walkouts, teacher-led marches, and even the filing of federal lawsuits.