Monday, July 10, 2006

District Level Graduation Rates

A new study sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looked at graduation rates on a district-by-district level and found that they are shockingly lower than previously reported by the education bureaucracy. Newt Gingrich made some of the following comments:

In big-city public school districts like Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas and Denver, fewer than 50% of high school students graduate on time. In three districts, the public schools graduate fewer than 40% of their students: In New York City, the graduation rate is 38.9%; in Baltimore, it's 38.5%; and in Detroit, only 21.7% of students who enter public high schools will graduate.

If only 21.7% of students graduate from Detroit schools on time, 78.3% of students fail to graduate. Almost 80% of students -- four out of five -- are failed by our educational system. Why do we tolerate this level of failure? The fact is, in most aspects of life, we don't. If a private company took the money from its customers and then failed 80%, it would be closed in a day.

A high school diploma is the minimum requirement for successful participation in American life. Nationwide, it is estimated that three of every 10 students who start high school won't graduate on time. For minorities, these numbers are worse. One of every two African-American and Latino students won't graduate on time or graduate at all. There are more African American males in prison than there are in college.

The left believe that more money will cure what is wrong with our education system. This is a big lie. Nationally, our education bureaucracy is receiving more than $440 billion a year of our tax dollars to fund our schools, but only about 61% of this is actually spent in classrooms. In Michigan, only 57% of education funds are actually spent on teachers and teaching. The rest goes to the bureaucracy for undefined, unaccountable "overhead." Unless and until we make it a priority to put the welfare of our children over the welfare of the education bureaucracy, our education bureaucracy will continue to consign our children to future poverty and our nation to future failure.

Educational success appears driven, in part, by culture. We cannot assume our public schools will be the sole source of our children's' education. Certainly they need to do better but money is not the answer. Hard work and fundamentals are. They should not be catered to; they should be expected to put in the time and do many things on their own.

The cultural success factor is the family. If the parent(s) are not working with their children on a daily basis, they cannot help their children; they will not know how well their children are doing / not doing; they will not know what they children are being taught / not being taught.

The only successfully run government programs are in the military. All others are bureaucratic nightmares and money pit. I have little hope to see our governmental educational programs ever succeed. That's why charter schools and home schooling are growing -- they can take control over their children's education without the NEA's involvement.


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