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Same As It Ever Was….

November 20, 2013

My daughter fed me a link to a Huffington Post article that featured four charts displaying the cold truth about the NAEP test results: students raised in relative affluence score higher than children who qualify for free and reduced lunch.  The article invited comments… and I couldn’t resist:

To quote David Byrne: “Same as it ever was….”. In the 1960s we declared a war on poverty… In the mid 1970s i started my career as a public school administrator and our state administered tests to all students. At that time the correlation between parent’s socio-economic standing and test performance was the same as it is today… did we use those findings to double down on the war on poverty? Sadly, we did not. In 1981 we learned that we were a Nation at Risk because our test scores were in precipitous decline. Did we use that clarion call to improve test scores to make a greater effort to fight against poverty? No… we abandoned the War on Poverty because it was easier to fight teachers unions, the government bureaucrats, and welfare queens than it was to fight the nascent anti-tax and anti-government movement. Every Department of Education Secretary since has advocated some form of test-and-punish regimen and the results have been consistent through the decades: students in affluent and middle class districts show modest improvement and students raised in poverty remain stuck at the lowest performance levels. Until some national politician links the problem with schools with the problems of poverty we will continue to test everyone to prove what we already know: students raised in poverty face daunting challenges in public schools…. and the problem ISN’T the schools.

No need to worry, though… the legislators have figured out how to fix this problem: they are reducing funds for free and reduced lunches as part of the recent agriculture bill so that fewer students will qualify. That’s one way to eliminate the poverty problem.

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