Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I was trying to watch a video of the debate yesterday between the education advisors of the two Presidential candidates (Lisa Graham Keegan for John McCain, and Linda Darling-Hammond for Barack Obama).

Somehow, I got put onto a blog by a teacher, Anthony Cody, that's attached to Education Week. I can't post it because you have to be a paid subscriber to read it. But the statistics it reveals points out the urgent need to elect McCain -- because his administration will permit school choice -- rather than Obama, whose policies would continue to trap disadvantaged children in a hopeless cycle of failure.

This blogger carried an article about Nebraska's ex-commissioner of education, Doug Christensen, and in reading the comments attached to that article, I got my consciousness raised, bigtime, about education in Nebraska:

One of the commenters after the story, "Judy," says that the Nebraska assessment system, STARS, "has been used to cover up the serious educational neglect of poor and minority students."

She pointed out that, according to the assessments prepared and given by Nebraska teachers, 75% of Nebraska's African American students were scored as reading on grade level in 4th grade. That sounds great!

But on the same kinds of tests on the same age of students, given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, for which the questions are prepared by professional test-writers, NOT local Nebraska teachers, just 9% of African American students were actually reading on grade level.

Holy schmoly! Our local teachers say 75% are doing great, but an objective, national measurement says only 9%.

For Latinos in the same age group, the poster continued, the same incredible gap showed up: 80% of Latino fourth-graders were said by Nebraska teachers to be reading A-OK, while on the NAEP, just 12% of the Latino readers were judged to be working at grade level in reading.

This is unbelievable! This is unconscionable! I've written about the gap between statewide and nationally-derived test scores before, but I guess I've never seen them laid side by side in such stark contrast.

She concluded, "The long term consequences of this neglect is reflected in the fact that in Nebraska only 39% of African American students graduate from high school on time as opposed to 83% of white students."

It's so terrible, and so terribly embarrassing, I really can't stand it. Either our teachers and curricula are so racist and biased against children of color that they simply can't learn in our school systems . . . or our Nebraska teachers are so poorly trained, mostly by the University of Nebraska system, that they can't assess their students' academic abilities with any accuracy, even in the all-important area of reading.

This kind of stuff is why I truly believe we need to vote AGAINST every single incumbent this election cycle who has had anything to do with education of significant numbers of children of color, and start over with some honest, fresh faces.

That means don't vote for any incumbent for the school boards at OPS or LPS, and probably don't vote for the state senators who have been incumbents over the past many years and have stood for this travesty.

And it's just one more good reason to vote for McCain, who is a big proponent of school choice (Obama is totally against it), to let parents of children suffering from this incredible disparity of achievement to get out of the public schools that are failing them, and into the private schools where they stand a better chance of getting educated.

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Nosotros debemos diferenciar entre los ninos con desventajas cronicas,(per ejemplo, aquellos cuyos padres no parecen interesarse mucho sobre la educacion de sus hijos,) y aquellos que solo hablan un idioma que no sea Ingles en sus casas. Estos estudiantes quienes no hablan Ingles pueden ser sumergidos en el Ingles y al final de un ano no tendrian ninguna desventaja porque la mayoria de ellos proceden de familias emigrantes con padre & madre los cuales se interesan profundamente sobre la educacion de sus hijos.(I learned Spanish as an ADULT. Children learn languages much better than adults.)
We should differentiate between chronically disadvantaged children(ie; those whose parents don't seem to care very much about education) and those who just speak a language other than English in the home. The non-English speakers can be immersed in English and in a year they are not disadvantaged because they come from mostly two-parent immigrant families who, as immigrants, do care very deeply about their children's educations.
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