U.S. education continues decline

America’s education system, once among the world’s best, has fallen on hard times. The latest evidence of this can be found in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an exam given every few years by the federal Department of Education to fourth, eighth, and 12th graders. 

The latest results of this test show that only one third of American students exhibited proficiency in science and technology. Only three percent of students are classified as “advanced.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “[t]hirty-four percent of fourth-graders scored at or above proficient. Describing the life cycle of an organism is an example of a skill demonstrated by fourth graders at the proficient level. Thirty percent of eighth graders met the mark, by demonstrating, for example, that they could recognize plants produce their own food.” As students progress in age, it seems their knowledge declines, as only 21 percent of 12th grade students met the criteria sufficient to be considered proficient. 

In this month’s issue of Reason magazine, economist Veronique de Rugy explains that a lack of accountability in our education system has led to stagnant scores and complacency, despite the fact we are second in the world in per pupil spending. She explains, “[w]e have tried spending more money and putting more teachers in classrooms for more than a generation, with no observable improvements to anything except the schools’ bottom lines.” 

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised even more spending on education and for his Race to the Top initiative – a stimulus program that will be carried forward as the Obama Administration’s version of his predecessor’s “No Child Left Behind” Act – as a way to “win the future.” 

Rhetoric aside, however, this administration is not moving in the right direction. In its first year in office, for example, the Obama administration killed the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school voucher program for low-income students in the District of Columbia. These scholarships were one of the few federally-funded initiatives that were actually working; providing hundreds of students with opportunities that would ordinarily be beyond their reach. 

We cannot “win the future” by preserving the status quo. Continuing to pour money into a system that has no real accountability is no way to ensure our children regain the competitive edge they enjoyed in generations past. Absent fundamental changes in our approach to education, scores such as the most recent NAEP results will – sadly –continue to be the norm.

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

112 comments Add your comment

lovelyliz

February 11th, 2011
12:59 pm

For all the hype about a few standout schools, charter schools in general aren’t producing better results than traditional public schools. A national study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford found that while 17% of charter schools produced better results than neighborhood public schools, 37% were significantly worse, and the rest were no different.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, charter-school teachers are, on average, younger and less likely to hold state certification than teachers in traditional public schools.

As many as one in four charter school teachers leave every year, according to a 2007 study by Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University, and other researchers at the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. That’s about double the typical teacher turnover rate in traditional public schools.

Students with disabilities need not apply.

An investigation by Philadelphia’s City Controller earlier this year uncovered widespread financial mismanagement among the city’s charter schools, including undisclosed “related party” transactions where friends and family of school management were paid for various services, people listed as working full time at more than one school, individuals writing checks to themselves, and even a $30,000 bill from a beach resort charged to a school.Financial scandals have come to light in schools around the country, but what’s more troubling, says advocate Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters in New York City, is that charter schools have opposed state audits of their finances

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools have been criticized for high rates of student attrition, in part because it’s the struggling students who are more likely to leave schools mid-year – so if more students leave charters, that churn could boost a school’s scores. A KIPP study released in June found students leaving at rates comparable to the rate at which students leave traditional public schools

Some of the most successful charter schools are also some of the wealthiest. Harlem Children’s Zone, for example, had over $193 million in net assets at the end of the 2008-2009 school year, according to its most recent IRS filing. The organization’s charter schools spend $12,443 per student in public money and an additional $3,482 that comes from private fundraising. That additional funding helps pay for 30% more time in class, according to Marty Lipp, spokesman for the organization. It’s great to see schools that have the resources to spend lavishly to help children succeed, Bulkley says, but it’s difficult to see how those schools can then be models for traditional public schools largely constrained by traditional public budgets

While it’s true that teachers represent the most important in-school factor affecting student performance, out-of-school factors matter more, Ravitch says. “The single biggest predictor of student performance is family income,” she says. “I certainly wish it were not so, but it is.” Children from higher-income families get a huge head start thanks to better nutrition, a larger vocabulary spoken at home and other factors, she says.

LA

February 11th, 2011
1:32 pm

“Another Obama hater idiot: Our President just 2 week ago was stressing the importance of education but these dumb Georgia back wards hicks are bent on keeping us last.’

LOL, whatever you say, troglodyte. Funny thing is, Obozo has always sent his daughters to private school. If Georgia is so backwards, move.

Remember, little girl. Delta is ready when you are.

LA

February 11th, 2011
1:32 pm

“My bad.’

I’m sure that you and I can have a civil discussion.

LA

February 11th, 2011
1:34 pm

“While it’s true that teachers represent the most important in-school factor affecting student performance, out-of-school factors matter more, Ravitch says. “The single biggest predictor of student performance is family income,” she says. “I certainly wish it were not so, but it is.” Children from higher-income families get a huge head start thanks to better nutrition, a larger vocabulary spoken at home and other factors, she says.”

That’s because the parents worked hard to get there and want to instill that same work ethic in their kids. You can throw all the money in that world at the baby mamas of America, but it won’t change anything. All they will do is spend said money on stupid things.

If the low income parent doesn’t have a good work ethic, chances are their kids won’t either.

jconservative

February 11th, 2011
1:47 pm

And it is actually worse than Barr is saying.

Forty percent of Ph.D degrees awarded by US universities are awarded to non-US citizens – aliens if you prefer. And after they get their PhD degree we tell most of them they have to go back to their home country.

Does not make sense to me.

Old Physics Teacher

February 11th, 2011
1:50 pm

Lord Guys!,

One of my old instructors once said, “When the only tool on your tool belt is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” The problem isn’t in our stars – or our teacher unions – or our political party, it’s in ourselves. We have given up on personal responsibility and blamed someone else for our faults as parents. “It’s the teacher’s fault; it’s the administrator’s fault; it’s the party in power’s fault!” No it’s not; it’s YOUR’S! Did you remove the TV from your child’s room; did you remove the cell phone; did you remove the car keys? If the subject is that important, did you help the kid? Probably not. All you said was, “It’s someone else’s responsibility! I had ‘em; not it’s time for someone else to hold them responsible!” I live in a poor rural county with some pretty poor teachers that try hard. All 4 kids of mine got academic scholarships because I helped them study at night. My wife, who only has a high school degree helped them at night. Grow up and be responsible for your children and quit blaming others!

LA

February 11th, 2011
1:55 pm

jconservative

Not to mention American engineers vs. foreign engineers.

LA

February 11th, 2011
1:57 pm

“No it’s not; it’s YOUR’S! ”

You’re generalizing now.

LA

February 11th, 2011
1:58 pm

“Grow up and be responsible for your children and quit blaming others!”

Who are you talking to?

SPSU

February 11th, 2011
2:23 pm

Yet the libtards answer to “fixing” education: Spend more money. You would think the clowns would look to the APS that spends 12k+ on each student who can barely read and needs teachers to change test answers for them.

LA

February 11th, 2011
2:33 pm

“Yet the libtards answer to “fixing” education: Spend more money. ”

That’s their answer to everything.

Supreme Being

February 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

Another Obama hater idiot: Our President just 2 week ago was stressing the importance of education but these dumb Georgia back wards hicks are bent on keeping us last.

Real American…you said it right about Obama…”he stressed the importance of education”. But the hypocritical empty suit has no intention of doing anything that would offend the teacher’s unions and losing that bloc of voters in his reelectoin campaign. Maybe if you moved, Georgia would have one less toothless hick to carry on the dole and would free up another double wide.

Real

February 11th, 2011
2:56 pm

The reason for the decline in academic performance is that people don’t value education. Parents, teachers, administrators, politicians, and employers are all guilty to some extent. We do our children a disservice by setting shamefully low expectations and then praising them when those expectations are met. We have to foster a sense of hard work, an aversion to blame, and a will to succeed. “Not failure, but low aim is sin.”

Carlosgvv

February 11th, 2011
3:16 pm

LA

I will if you will.

LA

February 11th, 2011
3:18 pm

“I will if you will.”

Fine by me. Let’s have a civil discussion.

Carlosgvv

February 11th, 2011
3:38 pm

LA

I vote Democratic not because I think they are a great or even good party. Actually, they are really bad. The problem is the Republicans seem to be even worse. It’s almost like being between a rock and a hard place. I wish there was some good alternative to the Democrats, but what?

LA

February 11th, 2011
3:45 pm

“I wish there was some good alternative to the Democrats, but what?”

Libertarian.

“The problem is the Republicans seem to be even worse.’

Unemployment is 10%. Obama has no clue as to what is going on in the world. The democrats shoved a horrible health care bill down our throats which destroyed them in the House. Obama has tripled the deficit. Obama’s stimulus packages failed BIG TIME. Obama continues both wars and Gitmo remains opened.

SO, how are things better under Obama?

LA

February 11th, 2011
3:47 pm

Carlos

No one said this about America under Bush, Regan or Clinton.

Egypt Crisis Puts Spotlight on Weakness in US: El-Erian

http://www.cnbc.com/id/41528763

Still think Obama is great?

RL

February 11th, 2011
3:58 pm

I think we should pay every teacher $350,000/9 months. That would solve the problem!

Hmmmm

February 11th, 2011
4:00 pm

I go with those who see parents as a big part of the problem. Kids spend too much time watching tv, talking or texting on their cell phones, playing computer games or “visiting” their friends on face-book or other social networks. Kids have two or three after school activities, music lessons, ballet lessons, soccer or baseball clinics, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.

I worked and came home at night to fix dinner and talk to my child. She learned to speak the language correctly and to express herself clearly. I read to her when she was young. I helped her with homework most nights – at least made sure she did it and often flipped to the questions at the end of the history text and we reviewed what she had read. We had books and magazines in the house and we used the public libraries a lot. I never missed a teacher’s conference.

She knew I thought school was important.

She also had chores. We didn’t have much money, so she helped cook and clean house. After she reached 16 she worked in the summers. In college, she got some scholarships and then worked as a resident assistant and worked over the holidays and in the summers. She got her masters on a scholarship from an Ivy League school.

She earned it. And I think that is important.

Carlosgvv

February 11th, 2011
4:06 pm

LA

George Bush got us into wars we did not need and I’m afraid all those American deaths will prove to be for nothing. Obama promised change but so far, all I see is more of the same, and worse. By the way, I don’t think he is great. He means well but dosen’t seem to have a clue. Aren’t there any competent people left who can be good American presidents? Can you imagine having to decide between Obama and Palin?

To Real

February 11th, 2011
4:10 pm

We need to have equality of results. If one student graduates from high school, they all need to graduate. If one student graduates from college, we need everyone to graduate from college. It is a right. It has nothing to do with effort, ability, or intelligence.

Gator Nation

February 11th, 2011
4:13 pm

Lets look at the Right’s solution to these problems:

1) Sending kids to private schools……which by the way have zero accountability for the progress on test scores achieved by their students. Ofcourse they aren’t “failing”, they aren’t even being graded!

2) Teaching creationism in the classroom as if it were science. Somehow I don’t think that that will help with the above mentioned questions about cell and plant biology.

You wanna raise science scores…….make it a part of the AYP determination of the elementary and middle schools. That’s a start at least.

Rockerbabe

February 11th, 2011
4:15 pm

Here we go again; using standardized testing methods to determine how well or poorly our kids are doing in school. Well, they are not doing well; they are not taught at home; there is way too much distraction from cell phones, facebook, the internet, video games, etc. Kids watch way too much TV-times up to 5 hours/day. When do they study or do any type of homework? Where are the parents? Why do kids now days have absolutely no boundries set for them?

Learning, well, if they aren’t spoon-fed by teachers, like their parents do, the kids just do not get it! It isn’t the fault of the teachers as they are not the kids who have had poor parenting. There is only so much a teacher can do in the school’s classrooms on a daily basis.

All this business about “better schools” is code for a private or catholic school education. Those schools do not do the same kind of testing done in the public schools, so how do you know that the schools are better? By reputation or just the fact that the schools are white and not public?

Just remember, the majority of kids in college, any college, come from public schools.
The majority of policeman, fireman, emt, etc all come from public schools.
The majority of anyone who holds a license to practice their profession or trade in Georgia is a graduate of a public school.
The majority of engineers, draftsman are graduates of public schools.
The majority of those serving int he military and who go to the military academies are graduates from public schools.
The majority of nurses, pharmacist, dietitians, PT, SLP. OT, etc in heathcare are graduates of public schools.
The majority of everyone in this country graduates from public schools; so how bad could it be? Maybe it all of the politicans would stop bad-mouthing the teachers and scapegoating their union, we could have a civil dialogue about education and what is expected from all of those involved.
AND, another thing, majority of politicans in this country also come from public schools – oh, I guess Mr. Barr has made his point!?

LA

February 11th, 2011
4:16 pm

“George Bush got us into wars”

Shall I post every single Democrat who signed on to the wars? Your current VP and Sec of State both signed on.

“Obama promised change but so far, all I see is more of the same, and worse.”

Yep.

“Aren’t there any competent people left who can be good American presidents?”

Yep, and I can list them if you’d like.

“Can you imagine having to decide between Obama and Palin?”

Not that it ever came to that, but right now I’d pick Palin over Obama any day.

I don’t want to do this but I can list many things that qualify her to be president.

LA

February 11th, 2011
4:18 pm

“Ofcourse they aren’t “failing”, they aren’t even being graded!’

Are you retarded?

“Teaching creationism in the classroom as if it were science. Somehow I don’t think that that will help with the above mentioned questions about cell and plant biology.”

Why can’t they teach both sides? I mean, are you a fascist?

Gator Nation

The gators suck. WAR EAGLE!

LA

February 11th, 2011
4:19 pm

“Ofcourse they aren’t “failing”, they aren’t even being graded!’

So explain how these kids surpass public school kids in every aspect. Explain how private school kids score higher on SAT’s.

Carlosgvv

February 11th, 2011
4:26 pm

LA

1. I know many Democrats have signed on to those wars. But, they were
not the Commander-In-Chief.
2, How do we get those competent people to run?
3. I’m sure Sarah has many fine qualities, So does Obama but that does
not make a good president.

Corey

February 11th, 2011
4:27 pm

“Out educate, out innovate and out make our competition to win the future” If Reagan had said it conservatives would find nothing wrong with it, but the wrong person (BO) said it. Sarah Palin refers to what the president said as WTF. Irrational party politics will doom us all. We are already on that slippery slope.

LA

February 11th, 2011
4:29 pm

“1. I know many Democrats have signed on to those wars. But, they were
not the Commander-In-Chief.”

Doesn’t matter. Without their approval, no wars.

“2, How do we get those competent people to run?”

Gotta wait until 2012 to see I guess. No one can run until then.

“3. I’m sure Sarah has many fine qualities, So does Obama but that does
not make a good president.”

Agreed. I was just making a point that she has executive experience. No one has any idea about what kind of president she’d be but I guarantee you that she would not have run the economy into the ground.

LA

February 11th, 2011
4:31 pm

“If Reagan had said it conservatives would find nothing wrong with it, but the wrong person (BO) said it.’

Reagan never advocated more government to solve the education problem. He, like most conservatives, hold the view of personal responsibility. Also, Obama can make all the speeches he wants but his actions don’t reflect his speeches.

“Sarah Palin refers to what the president said as WTF.”

Yeah, that’s because it’s true. His speeches are meaningless.

LA

February 11th, 2011
4:33 pm

“Out educate, out innovate and out make our competition to win the future”

His policies don’t reflect his speeches. Government will never make things better. Government will never make anyone compete.

Tychus Findlay

February 11th, 2011
4:54 pm

With the government spending $12K+ per student, they ought to be fired for not producing a better product.

I saw a recent article exploring the merits of giving ipads to students in rural and under performing school districts. That’s tantamount to pearls before swine.

marcus

February 11th, 2011
4:59 pm

education cuts froam a clown like barr makes a lot sense. amtrak and greyhound are overwrought with people coming to atlanta because this is supposed such a great place to live and work. but in reality atlanta is flooded with uneducated people. people who for a better reason, slipped through the education cracks. have you ever walked around five points, the malls, or seen the line of people waiting to get in. its not that they are in search of the wealth of knowledge that can found there, its because they have no where else to go. they are the lost, the hopeless and the confused. some hope for a better life and that hope becomes clouded because all the unskilled jobs are going to whatever foreigner (regardless of their language skill set) applies. out of towners have quickly gotten into the routine that the native georgians who migrate here already possess. they find the nearest shelter, run the food train from church to streets, get and sale their foodstamps, and hustle whatevr they can; from dollar shots, cigarettes or clothes and for a select few their bodies. let those people in charge, from the governor on down and even those people who think they are influential, like barr, tackle this issue. educate these people then you won’t have that rampid crime on our streets. its something really pathetic about people who come here thinking this is some sort of “black mecca” only to find out that it is an uncaring, uneducated mess of a city. the only people who are able to enjoy the fruits of atlanta are tourist, the middle to upper class and those individuals who just don’t give a damn. atlanta on paper is a great city, but she is stained by the homeless, uneducated and deviants who inhabit her.

LA

February 11th, 2011
5:01 pm

“but she is stained by the homeless, uneducated and deviants who inhabit her.”

Ever been to Chicago, LA, Detroit or NY?

Carlosgvv

February 11th, 2011
5:04 pm

LA

Here is something I have been thinking about for a long time and I want your opinion. Since America is such a large country with so many people who have so many different political beliefs and agendas, is it possible that no one president will ever be very successful no matter what party? I know that’s a downer but it seems more and more true every day. I have to go now so let me know and we’ll pick this up tommorrow.

marcus

February 11th, 2011
5:07 pm

god he looks like kevin spacey in that movie about the queer guy in new orleans………. could you imagine him and the speaker sharing an island :-)

marcus

February 11th, 2011
5:09 pm

yes, no, no, yes….
but this is supposed to be the “black mecca”….

Richard

February 11th, 2011
5:15 pm

When exactly was America’s education system among the best in the world? If we follow the pronouncements of politicians, business people, pundits and what-have-yous, America’s education system has always been in decline. Have you forgotten the 1983 report on the crisis on education where it claimed that if a country imposed on another our education systems it would be considered an act of war? Have you forgoten the Life magazine ‘exposes’ on the ‘dismal’American education system and how it compares with the formidable system in Russia. Please, go check it out in the library – it is all there. People love to berate our education system. Certainly = it stands to be improved. But the gloom and doom is exagerated. I would like to remind everyone that if in fact our education system is so dismal – it doesn’t seem to have had an impact on our country’s ability to maintain the world largest economy and we still lead in many technological sectors. Also – it seems that Germans, Japanese and others don’t mind our education system when they open factories here. So obviously – our workers aren’t that dumb.

Richard

February 11th, 2011
5:16 pm

BTW = the exposes by Life magazine were in the 1950s.

LA

February 11th, 2011
5:18 pm

“Since America is such a large country with so many people who have so many different political beliefs and agendas, is it possible that no one president will ever be very successful no matter what party?”

Depends on who it is. The left has fallen apart and we may never see another democrat president in our lifetime. He has done more harm to the democrat party than ANY republican could ever dream of. With that said, we need someone who won’t run the country off the cliff. The wars will continue because no one, not even Ron Paul, will end them.

W was not as hated as the media made him out to be. He had approval ratings above 50% until 2008. That’s not bad at all considering all the things he went through. 911 etc.

Bill Clinton, had he kept his pants on, would have had a great legacy and he also had high approval ratings.

Ronald Reagan wasn’t perfect but he did a lot of great things including ending the Cold War. The economy got better etc..

The future lies in conservatism and 2012 will be interesting because you will see all GOP candidates out-conservatizing each other.

This is my list of candidates who are more than competent and have proven track records:

1: Chris Christie
2: Paul Ryan
3: Mitch Daniels
4: Bobby Jindal
5: Rick Perry

Every one of those guys successfully ran their states and even turned them around. Bobby Jindal has done wonders for LA and Chris Christie is turning NJ around.

Just my two cents.

LA

February 11th, 2011
5:20 pm

“it seems that Germans, Japanese and others don’t mind our education system when they open factories here. So obviously – our workers aren’t that dumb.”

Germany is the most fiscally conservative country in Europe and they are laughing at Europe right now. Japan has been mired in recession over the past 10 years.

No, our workers aren’t dumb at all.

[...] Originally posted here: U.S. education continues decline | The Barr Code [...]

Supreme Being

February 11th, 2011
5:50 pm

Carlos & LA

Sorry I could not dive in today…busy at work trying to survive the depression in the real estate industry. Great points each all the way around. We need a REAL leader to emerge in 2012, not a community organizer with a catchy campaign slogan…from EITHER party. A leader with balls…sorry Sarah (although you have grit) and that is not afraid to make tough choices and has proven experience both in Government and business. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal have proven leadership. Herman Cain has a lot of common sense but no goverment experience. I was dissapointed in W’s 2nd term, but glad he was in charge after 9/11. Al Gore would have been another Obama so it was a hold your nose and pull the lever. Let’s get a real leader and not a corporate or union patsy. Peace

eatmotacos

February 11th, 2011
6:19 pm

As a student at the Univ of Ga in the late 60s, I recall that the education majors were almost exclusively female – probably, over 90%. This was a serious era, during the Vietnam War, when there was much discussion about politics and current events. I can remember, early on, forming an opinion about the education majors – they were the dullest, least informed students that I knew – not much fun on a date. Being the easiest major, academically, had a lot to do with it, I suppose. I also remember that the universal objective of this set, seemed to be to catch a husband, and the desperation in their senior year, if they weren’t in a serious relationship. Over the years, based on this experience, I have never been surprised at the state of our education system in this country.

reality check

February 11th, 2011
6:26 pm

The problem started when they started rating schools and teachers by test results. That puts pressure on teachers to “teach the test”. Throw out the tests for at least 5 years. Start teaching children to read, write, and think through problems. I believe employers would find better employees and colleges could teach fewer remedial classes.

Reed

February 11th, 2011
8:12 pm

Good discussion everyone. It seems to me, the main reason for our country’s decline in the educational arena, can be attributed to the sad shape of our economical status. This county has always had its share of dropouts and underacheivers, but add a high unemployment rate, weak stock market, and shady business practices on Wall St. and Govt., while continuing to push on with the same ol’ failing stimulus and bail out practices, when our country is sinking deeper in middle eastern quicksand, (…hold on taking a breath…) then you come up with the sum of : “our NATION’s education has been traded for greed of the >few!” With that said, I have done a little research lately on the Internet, looking for alternative or low-budget educational opportunities, and was somewhat impressed whith my findings. Apparently not every big buisness out there has contempt for the needs of our countrymen. I have found quite a few well known institutions that are providing free or very low-cost online courses, mainly in computer knowledge, to anyone, most of them requiring the starting age of only 13. I think that if this was more well known by the public, that many more of our citizens, would have better skills to help us compete in the global market. Furthermore, it is my opinion, that more pressure needs to be applied to the American consumer, to be more conscience in buying U.S products, especially in the auto and technology industries (oh, and childrens toys!) and to educate them further on the consiquences of their foreign purchases on our economy. Lastly, I would like to share with you the results of my findings related to free courses, by providing a link to a page on my website, where I have listed backlinks to these generous companys. (if it is ok with this site’s admin. of course:) http://www.education.us.mn My DNS service is currently upgrading their services, so If this URL doesn’t work at first, try back later. I beleive I will be able to add another page of this type of information soon, so for those who are interested, you can check back for the update. I think I will name the new page educational2. Thank you.

Sick Teacher

February 11th, 2011
10:54 pm

I am so sick and tired of peope like Bob Barr insulting teachers. Yes, there may be some weak teachers, but everytime something is done in education, more is put on the Teachers’ back. We get all the blame. Always have someone in the comments that blames the teacher unions. People, we don’t have any unions in Georgia or most states. Public education has been going down for a long time. The main reason for this breakdown is the family or lack of any more. Parents ( a lot of them not all of them) aren’t there to support their children anymore to make them study or behave. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common. I have been teaching for almost 20 years and have seen the fall of support kids. Now we have more ignorant parents with kids with no support from home. If parents aren’t held to be more responsible for their actions or lack of, this country will be in the toilet in the near future. We have so many kids with behavior problems that it is not even funny. This kids don’t care and have no feeling and our punishments or lack of alternative, especially starting in middle school, are a joke to kids and parents. Until our gov. gets the stomach to really deal with the real problem, public education will continue to be a failure just like our border with Mexico.

JW

February 11th, 2011
10:56 pm

Whatever! Some crisis…
For some real interesting reading, try “Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy”

“Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty.”