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  • azalphainvestor azalphainvestor Apr 22, 2009 4:49 PM Flag

    Educational Gap

    While Cons would rather not hear or deal with it, yet more Inconvenient Facts, Friedman again points out some interesting developments that the Super Patriot Cons like to completely ignore. Read and Think:

    April 22, 2009
    Op-Ed Columnist
    Swimming Without a Suit

    Speaking of financial crises and how they can expose weak companies and weak countries, Warren Buffett once famously quipped that “only when the tide goes out do you find out who is not wearing a bathing suit.” So true. But what’s really unnerving is that America appears to be one of those countries that has been swimming buck naked — in more ways than one.

    Credit bubbles are like the tide. They can cover up a lot of rot. In our case, the excess consumer demand and jobs created by our credit and housing bubbles have masked not only our weaknesses in manufacturing and other economic fundamentals, but something worse: how far we have fallen behind in K-12 education and how much it is now costing us. That is the conclusion I drew from a new study by the consulting firm McKinsey, entitled “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.”

    Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.

    For instance, in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that measured the applied learning and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds in 30 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked 25th out of the 30 in math and 24th in science. That put our average youth on par with those from Portugal and the Slovak Republic, “rather than with students in countries that are more relevant competitors for service-sector and high-value jobs, like Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia,” McKinsey noted.

    Actually, our fourth-graders compare well on such global tests with, say, Singapore. But our high school kids really lag, which means that “the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers,” said McKinsey.

    There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools “who don’t realize how far behind they are,” said Matt Miller, one of the authors. “They are being prepared for $12-an-hour jobs — not $40 to $50 an hour.”

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    • It is not that we are failing across the board. There are huge numbers of exciting education innovations in America today — from new modes of teacher compensation to charter schools to school districts scattered around the country that are showing real improvements based on better methods, better principals and higher standards. The problem is that they are too scattered — leaving all kinds of achievement gaps between whites, African-Americans, Latinos and different income levels.

      Using an economic model created for this study, McKinsey showed how much those gaps are costing us. Suppose, it noted, “that in the 15 years after the 1983 report ‘A Nation at Risk’ sounded the alarm about the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American education,” the U.S. had lifted lagging student achievement to higher benchmarks of performance? What would have happened?

      The answer, says McKinsey: If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher. If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher.

      There are some hopeful signs. President Obama recognizes that we urgently need to invest the money and energy to take those schools and best practices that are working from islands of excellence to a new national norm. But we need to do it with the sense of urgency and follow-through that the economic and moral stakes demand.

      With Wall Street’s decline, though, many more educated and idealistic youth want to try teaching. Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, called the other day with these statistics about college graduates signing up to join her organization to teach in some of our neediest schools next year: “Our total applications are up 40 percent. Eleven percent of all Ivy League seniors applied, 16 percent of Yale’s senior class, 15 percent of Princeton’s, 25 percent of Spellman’s and 35 percent of the African-American seniors at Harvard. In 130 colleges, between 5 and 15 percent of the senior class applied.”

      Part of it, said Kopp, is a lack of jobs elsewhere. But part of it is “students responding to the call that this is a problem our generation can solve.” May it be so, because today, educationally, we are not a nation at risk. We are a nation in decline, and our nakedness is really showing. >

      Comment.. While I dont nececessarily agree with some of Friedman's conclusions/assertions, I think it clear that additional investment in Education is in our national interest. GEt on board, Cons.


      • 2 Replies to azalphainvestor
      • regard - I think it clear that additional investment in Education is in our national interest.

        respond - As long as the existing educational system is in place giving more money to a failed socialistic educational model it will continue to fail.

        School vouchers whereby parents have a say in placing thier loved ones in a school of their choice is the only answer to our present disastorous educational policy.

        Competition will force our existing school system to improve, but throwing more money down the present system's rat hole will keep our students dumb and dumber.

        IMO Liberals have taken over our educational system and have turned it into a disaster.

        Note that almost all, if not all, of the Washington D.C. politicians send their kids to PRIVATE SCHOOLS all the while praising public education.

        Doing what they do best ..... do as I say not as I do.

        Maybe if our politicians were forced to send their kids to public schools they would vote for the school voucher program.

        Until that happens, our educational system will continue to fail.

    • No problem - send 'em off to a State or Cummunity College where they will be placed in fast track remedial reading, English and math classes. I'm sure we can find a way to graduate them with a college degree (sic).

    • Dog insists he is not partisan.

      But dog is definitely a doofus....

      That would be a PARTISAN doofus.

      Actually, I don't think a doofus is anything.

      And neither is dog.

      Dog is nothing.


    • Dawn,

      Glad I touched your nerve. The Islam insertion had absolutely nothing to do with anything concerning your point. It only adds inflammation for the effect you desire, which is to avoid any sustantive discussion.

      Wait, Eureka, I have it! When you immediately define a liberal as bad, unhappy, stupid, deranged, deficient, insane, etc, and then define anybody that disagrees with you as a "liberal"-----then you don't have to discuss. Do you? Quite an "MO" you right wing skanks have don't you? Fortunately for you all, even folk that barely made it out of high school like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck can get that concept. Throw in a few "educated" like Coulter or Savage(nutrition I think) and you have a conservative intellectual "full house".

      You are a real hoot son. By the by, learn to spell!

    • Bohr---ing,

      You can't read either can you?

    • "The Islam insertion had absolutely nothing to do with anything..."

      If true, why hitchhike on it to call me a racist, etc?

      Perhaps you ARE unhappy. Well, actually, maybe the other names you called yourself apply too. You should know best about such things.

      "...touched a nerve." Not quite. I amuse myself by picturing things about goofy people. For you, it is a somewhat macabre piece of humor; i.e., an epitaph:

      "HERE LIES DOG - his final lie"


    • Yep, that is dog, wearing the mask.

      The beagle is left unprotected--no mask.


    • Fibs.. One of the things I really like about you. Living up to ur name fibs. For the language challenged that means a lyer.

      Suppose you missed that part of the program that emphasized that Obama had parcticed no other relegion than Christianity. IIRC that's the same as you.

      Kind of makes you a two faced Bon of Sitch. But we knew that already. Didnt we.


    • mad dog azz alfalfa told dib > One of the things I really like about you. Living up to ur name. For the language challenged that means a lyer <

      lezzt we forget mad dog azz alfalfa that u Kontinu to live up to ur name

      / \ ur the * mad dog

      liKe u didn't Know

    • alf, you know little of use to yourself or anyone else. There is doubt among many whether the president's "participation" in any religion has been anything other than expedience in pursuit of personal gain (and I don't mean spiritual gain). His most notable "participation" was with Rev Wright's church, arguably more attuned to black power than Christianity.

      Incidently, I am sure dog will now be all over you for your spelling (:-].


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