Thursday, April 23, 2009

New national study on test score disparity proves the truth: poor, minority child's plight determined by quality, training of teachers and principals

A new national study on test score disparities between white and minority students has reaffirmed an essential truth that operators of charter public schools have always known and state teachers unions have tried to avoid and even lie about.

It is the quality of the teachers and principal at a school that is the biggest determinant in closing the achievement gaps. And if we did, the national GDP would gain %3 billion to $5 billion more each day from a more educated workforce. Then, America would not have ship in computer software and programming specialists from overseas.

President Barack Obama has asked for education reforms aimed directly at the quality of teachers and principals by calling for open enrollment for charter public schools. They are allowed to set new standards for curriculum geared to the child's needs and set higher standards for teacher performance. They also spend much less money on administration and political patronage jobs.

Teacher unions don't want such changes. And in Tennessee, the state teachers union is fighting legislaton to open up enrollment for charter schools and lift the cap on their numbers. Sadly, they have black Memphis lawmakers on their side even though African-American children are suffering in traditional public schools and from a system first geared to preserving union member jobs no matter the poor level of performance.

The evidence continues to mount that the problems in public education do not primarily belong with the parents and the environment from which the poor and minority children come. It is with the training and commitment of the people running the schools and the lack of accountability for their poor performance in turn for your tax dollars.

And universities are not turning out teachers with the experience of how to nurture and teach children from difficult environments. Practicums are based on the ideal, not the reality.

Too much in American public education is geared to serve money-sucking institutions -- from the teaching colleges to the teacher unions to the vast district administration. The child comes last, as do taxpayers who are always told they need to provide more funding.

There is enough public education spending in this nation. There is not enough accountability for those dollars in performance and results.

These test score disparities are going to sink this economy in a new century of dramatic economic change. We won't have the educated workforce to compete with China and India. And our standard of living will plummet.

It's our choice. Support the change of charter public schools and tell the teacher union to put the children first before members' job security.

The New York Times reports in this excerpt:

WASHINGTON — The lagging performance of American schoolchildren, particularly among poor and minority students, has had a negative economic impact on the country that exceeds that of the current recession, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The study, conducted by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, pointed to bleak disparities in test scores on four fronts: between black and Hispanic children and white children; between poor and wealthy students; between Americans and students abroad; and between students of similar backgrounds educated in different parts of the country.

The report concluded that if those achievement gaps were closed, the yearly gross domestic product of the United States would be trillions of dollars higher, or $3 billion to $5 billion more per day.

This was the second report on education issues by the firm’s social sector office, which said it was not commissioned by any government, business or other institution. Starting in fall 2008, the researchers reviewed federal and international tests and interviewed education researchers and economists.

In New York City, an analysis of 2007 federal test scores for fourth graders showed strikingly stratified achievement levels: While 6 percent of white students in city schools scored below a base achievement level on math, 31 percent of black students and 26 percent of Hispanic students did. In reading, 48 percent of black students and 49 percent of Hispanic students failed to reach that base level, but 19 percent of white students did.

The New York City schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, who introduced the findings at the National Press Club in Washington, said the study vindicated the idea that the root cause of test-score disparities was not poverty or family circumstances, but subpar teachers and principals. He pointed to an analysis in the report showing low-income black fourth graders from the city outperformed students in all other major urban districts on reading (they came in second in math).

“Schools can be the game changer,” he said. “We are able to get very, very different results with the same children.”

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