Something that I think drives at least some of my disagreements with other liberals about education policy is that I think a lot of middle class liberals implicitly underestimate the extent of really bad learning outcomes. Take this report (PDF) from the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund which notes "that 47% of adults (more than 200,000 individuals) in the City of Detroit are functionally illiterate, referring to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations" and also that "within the tricounty region, there are a number of municipalities with illiteracy rates rivaling Detroit: Southfield at 24%, Warren at 17%, Inkster at 34%, Pontiac at 34%."One could just as easily cite Newark, where half the kids graduate and 98% of those who go to college require remedial courses. Or Camden Central High, where the district labels 33.6% of students as disabled, 38% were suspended in 2009-2010, and no one passes the math portion of the High School Proficiency Assessment, an 8th grade level test. Or John F. Kennedy High in Paterson, where all of 20% of students passed the HSPA, nearly half the high school was suspended last year, and the average score on the verbal portion of the SAT (for the students who took it) was 363.
While the district continues to face tough challenges, Newark has also created successful reforms in recent years that need to be sustained and strengthened.Really? Here’s East Side High in Newark, where HSPA scores stink, SAT scores are static, and graduation rates are slightly down. Here’s Maple Ave. Elementary, where 53% of 6th graders failed the standardized language arts test in 2009 and 82% failed it in 2010. And so on.
Through much hard work by local educators, parents and community leaders, Newark public schools have made concrete progress in recent years. According to an Education Law Center Report, nearly six thousand 3- and 4-year-olds are now enrolled in high-quality preschool, a program considered the best in the nation. Academic performance has improved in elementary schools and, as the Schott Foundation reports, black male graduation rates have risen.
Labels: Education Law Center, high school reform, HSPA, Newark