My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


More Educational Thoughts

A couple days ago, I blogged about a group coming together to "demand" that Denver schools do something about the gap between minority test scores and Caucasian test scores. Today, I saw an article about a school system that has made remarkable progress in that regard.

First, the data:

Most remarkable has been minority student progress. While the percentage of white third-graders reading at or above grade level has increased to 78% from 70% in 2001, the percentage among Hispanic third-graders has climbed from 46% to 61%, and among blacks from 36% to 52%. Graduation rates for Hispanic students have increased from 52.8% before the program started to 64% today; and for black students from 48.7% to 57.3%. Minority schoolchildren are not making such academic strides anywhere else.

This is astonishing progress, and is the sort of thing that should be getting widespread coverage. So why isn't it?

The saga began in 1999, when Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law the first money-back guarantee in the history of public education: the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Under the program, whenever a public school receives two failing grades on Florida's academic performance standards, state educational officials come into the school with a remedial program, and the students are allowed to transfer to better performing public schools or to use a share of their public funds as full payment of private-school tuition.

Oh, that's why. Because it involves school accountability, the possibility of school choice (the "V-word", as the article describes it), and, oh yes, a Republican Governor pushing the reform. That last reason is, of course, the main one for the lack of interest in the MSM.

What's sad about this, and what is really the point of the article, is that this reform may come crashing to an end because the Florida Supreme Court may reject that tradition by denying the constitutionality of, and thereby ending, the most promising educational progress for minority schoolchildren in the U.S.

Who in the world, you might ask, would want to bring an end to this success story?
The usual cast of characters that has opposed parental choice programs in other states--teachers unions, the American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way Of course.

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