Saturday, April 22, 2006

We Need Real Chicago School Reform Now

The Tribune headline spills across the front page,"Of 100 Chicago Public School Freshmen, SIX will Get a College Degree". The Sun Times shouts,"APPALLING". And it takes SIX years of college.

It's not just abysmal college graduation rates, it's high school as well, where barely half graduate. (See earlier post, The Hope of Choice) . A teacher at one of Chicago's worst schools, in desperation, blows the whistle in his blog, story here. Meanwhile, our smooth-talking Sen. Durbin (D-IL), the 2nd ranking Democrat leader in the Senate, goes to Englewood, site of recent horrific shootings of children, where gang members tell him they made a mistake dropping out of high school. (Durbin vs. Rev. Robin Hood here).

And in the suburbs, many districts have dumbed down, feel good curricula, where the "learning process" is king while actual learning is left behind. Math books have become liberal artsy with pictures and math "journals", so math is "fun" to teach, while even some gifted accelerated math students lag behind in computation. The WSJ, (April 19, "Social Engineering) carries an op-ed piece by a corporate leader highlighting the critical need for American schools to teach math and science. He needs a high-tech work force to compete in the global market, and points out that other countries regularly produce graduating classes, of whom 50% are educated in natural sciences or engineering, skilled in math and science:
For Lockheed Martin, where almost half of our 135,000 employees are scientists and engineers, questions of technological competitiveness go to the heart of our ability to innovate and thrive. Given the security constraints surrounding our work, outsourcing and offshoring aren't feasible options for companies in our sector. For the aerospace and defense industry, the front lines of the brainpower battle aren't in China, they're here at home.
Across the US, in tandem with the President's No Child Left Behind initiative, which recognized the scope of the problem, major cities, facing population and job losses, confront the problem of their failing schools.

In Milwaukee: Polly Williams and her successors (Milwaukee pioneered school choice). More here at "So you still think all blacks think alike...? Issues and Views: ...reporting from the Front lines of dissent since 1985.

In Washington D.C.: Mayor Anthony Williams and the Republican Congress (Hope of Choice)

In Minneapolis: Louis King

In Newark: Mayoral candidate Cory Booker and the Rev. Reginald Jackson, head of New Jersey's Black Ministers' Council.

In Los Angeles: Mayor Villaraigosa and California Governor Schwarzenegger.

In Chicago: ?

UPDATE: More on Cory Booker, an interesting guy, from Levois at It's My Mind.

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