The Education Blob Continues To Fail America’s Students

Charter schoolIt was former United Nation’s Ambassador and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who famously said “everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.” That quote came to mind in the wake of American College Testing (ACT) releasing their latest batch of test scores revealing American high school seniors readiness for college.

It was not a pretty sight.

ACT reported that only 60 percent of high schoolers met collegiate success benchmarks in English, 46 percent in reading, 40 percent in math and 38 percent in science. Every category – yes every category – showed a decline from the previous year. Our schools are going backward and taking our students with them.

Moynihan’s quote comes to mind because the American education establishment – I like to call it the Blob – tries to obscure continuously falling and failing test scores with a dust storm of opinions from “experts.” ACT doesn’t deal in opinions of any size, shape or form. They deal in facts, and in this case the adjectives “cold” and “hard” are exceptionally appropriate.

The cold hard facts are that only 36 percent of our seniors met “college ready” benchmarks in all four categories tested. That means almost two-thirds of our students are on the path to failure once they get to college.

The cold hard facts are that the establishment is dysfunctional for millions of America’s students, and is giving the worst education to those most in need, as Hispanic and African American students continue to lag behind their peers in every category tested. This is academic malpractice.

Moynihan was a fairly doctrinaire New York liberal for his times, but a thoughtful one never constrained by ideological straitjackets. He was an early and vocal supporter of school choice. The concept – which now applies to a number of opportunities states have created to expand options for students outside of their ZIP code – was a favorite of Moynihan’s. Moynihan passionately believed in giving parents the power to guide their kids’ education. He would be appalled that the ACT scores show that Hispanic and African-American students continue to lag behind their peers in every category tested.

All of America should be equally appalled. For 25 years now the Center for Education Reform (CER) has sounded the alarm about falling test scores and failing students. We believe, and statistics show, that we must transform education – not just tinker with systems and not just give parents more options to choose outside of their zoned schools. That is necessary but not sufficient. No,we must truly redesign the process and what we expect from educators, students and yes, the Blob. Education must become personalized to every child, every student. The vision for a 21st century education system, well articulated by iNACOL’s Susan Patrick, challenges us to use our tools & modern day technologies to help students achieve competency, not just finish a grade, before moving on. “Moving toward a competency-based education model requires fundamental shifts in the systems, structures and assumptions that the traditional model of education is rooted in. We need bold leadership to transform K-12 education systems and policy. We need to build collaborative and distributed leadership at all levels of the education system to lead this transformation,” says Patrick.

And that’s just the beginning. In the coming days CER will release its annual Parent Power Index (PPI), ranking the states on how much power they afford parents to drive their family’s education, and for the first time, taking a look at what states do to foster personalized learning, making schools student, not system centered. Such innovations in teaching and learning, along side the critical lever of expanded education opportunity so that no child is confined to a failing school because of their zip code, are critical to our nation’s future if we are to arrest the lagging education indicators that inhibit a productive future for tens of millions of Americans. As our nation moves toward yet another election, these issues should guide everyone’s decisions. Without informed and bold lawmakers at every level, we simply won’t change the status quo.

I think Daniel Moynihan would agree. These are not opinions. They are facts.

Jeanne Allen is the Founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform.

Comments

  1. The more funding that taxpayers hand over to the EduCrats, the worse the outcome from their institutions. It’s time to bring the entire structure down and to rebuild it from scratch.

  2. Boris Badenov says

    I’m dealing with the ‘educational crisis’ in a small way. A 7 year old that is behind in school due to home issues and the school has stated that they will NOT hold her back. They’d prefer she just fails but is with her friends. The concepts they are pushing are the Common Core krap that are, to my meager mind silly at this age, I’ve met far too many young adults that are woefully unprepared for anything but voting Democrat.

  3. I agree with the case for more parental power and choice. But the author did not mention a few factors that neither the public schools nor the charter schools will solve: black and hispanic students are empirically below Asians and whites on the IQ scale; and both races tend to have parents that are either missing in the equation or parents who want the schools to handle their children’s pre-conditions for learning. Intact families and involved parents make the difference. The public schools do not have the proper philosophical or political means that would treat this segment of their population.

    Charter or private schools won’t have any better success with those students.

  4. The California legislature has deemed what is important to be taught in California schools an it is not language or mathematics. The only thing important in California schools is “political correctness.”

  5. Victor Porlier says

    THE EDUCATIONAL BLOB
    In the New York Capital District where I live (centered on the state capital in Albany) there are 11 counties in the Capital District comprising 13 cities, 143 towns, 62 villages, and 60 school districts
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    “The most revered building in town is usually the school. The building may have seen better days, or in other cases, it represents the result of a significant financial investment.
    “In either case, the school is the same one many of the townspeople attended as children and where parents went for teacher conferences, PTA meetings, annual band and choir practices, and athletic events.”
    from Robert Wuthnow’s 2018 book, “The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    So so much is invested – historically, financially & culturally – in local school systems and memorable teachers that few taxpayers or parents are willing to criticize anything other than budgets, bonds, bullying. and union contract specifics – if even those.
    There may be, and often are, very caring, dedicated teachers in any given school system, BUT they have virtually no control over curriculum and textbook selection, neither do local school boards, school administrators. and local teacher union contractors (AFT & NEA).
    Yet it is the curriculum is the hugfest social and political problem that is dictated top-down from the United Nations (Common Core), the Ed Schools, the Federal Department of Education and the Education Departments of the States and Territories, and the several affiliated national professional associations and unions.
    Called by many The Educational Blob which is not a shivering amoeba – but an army of senior-level bureaucrats, academics, teachers’ unions, and supporting politicians and private contractors providing building construction, ever-changing technology, varied goods (textbooks & supplemental teaching materials, buses, athletic uniforms, etc. ) and services that many see as thwarting the changes that have to be made if we are to have a world-class education service.
    A lot of people, though, do not believe such a Blog exists. And they treasure and view their particular school district just as the majority typically sees and re-elects their elected politicians – all of which are believed to be exceptions to the general rule. Victor pTHE EDUCATIONAL BLOB
    In the New York Capital District where I live (centered on the state capital in Albany) there are 11 counties in the Capital District comprising 13 cities, 143 towns, 62 villages, and 60 school districts
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    “The most revered building in town is usually the school. The building may have seen better days, or in other cases, it represents the result of a significant financial investment.
    “In either case, the school is the same one many of the townspeople attended as children and where parents went for teacher conferences, PTA meetings, annual band and choir practices, and athletic events.”
    from Robert Wuthnow’s 2018 book, “The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    So so much is invested – historically, financially & culturally – in local school systems and memorable teachers that few taxpayers or parents are willing to criticize anything other than budgets, bonds, bullying. and union contract specifics – if even those.
    There may be, and often are, very caring, dedicated teachers in any given school system, BUT they have virtually no control over curriculum and textbook selection, neither do local school boards, school administrators. and local teacher union contractors (AFT & NEA).
    Yet it is the curriculum is the hugfest social and political problem that is dictated top-down from the United Nations (Common Core), the Ed Schools, the Federal Department of Education and the Education Departments of the States and Territories, and the several affiliated national professional associations and unions.
    Called by many The Educational Blob which is not a shivering amoeba – but an army of senior-level bureaucrats, academics, teachers’ unions, and supporting politicians and private contractors providing building construction, ever-changing technology, varied goods (textbooks & supplemental teaching materials, buses, athletic uniforms, etc. ) and services that many see as thwarting the changes that have to be made if we are to have a world-class education service.
    A lot of people, though, do not believe such a Blog exists. And they treasure and view their particular school district just as the majority typically sees and re-elects their elected politicians – all of which are believed to be exceptions to the general rule. VPorlier

  6. Victor Porlier says

    THE EDUCATIONAL BLOB
    In the New York Capital District where I live (centered on the state capital in Albany) there are 11 counties in the Capital District comprising 13 cities, 143 towns, 62 villages, and 60 school districts
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    “The most revered building in town is usually the school. The building may have seen better days, or in other cases, it represents the result of a significant financial investment.
    “In either case, the school is the same one many of the townspeople attended as children and where parents went for teacher conferences, PTA meetings, annual band and choir practices, and athletic events.”
    from Robert Wuthnow’s 2018 book, “The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    So so much is invested – historically, financially & culturally – in local school systems and memorable teachers that few taxpayers or parents are willing to criticize anything other than budgets, bonds, bullying. and union contract specifics – if even those.
    There may be, and often are, very caring, dedicated teachers in any given school system, BUT they have virtually no control over curriculum and textbook selection, neither do local school boards, school administrators. and local teacher union contractors (AFT & NEA).
    Yet it is the curriculum is the hugfest social and political problem that is dictated top-down from the United Nations (Common Core), the Ed Schools, the Federal Department of Education and the Education Departments of the States and Territories, and the several affiliated national professional associations and unions.
    Called by many The Educational Blob which is not a shivering amoeba – but an army of senior-level bureaucrats, academics, teachers’ unions, and supporting politicians and private contractors providing building construction, ever-changing technology, varied goods (textbooks & supplemental teaching materials, buses, athletic uniforms, etc. ) and services that many see as thwarting the changes that have to be made if we are to have a world-class education service.
    A lot of people, though, do not believe such a Blog exists. And they treasure and view their particular school district just as the majority typically sees and re-elects their elected politicians – all of which are believed to be exceptions to the general rule. Victor Porlier

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