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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"Record Number Complete High School and College"

So goes today's headline in the NY Times. 

Although the United States no longer leads the world in educational attainment, record numbers of young Americans are completing high school, going to college and finishing college, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available census data. 

The share of high school graduates in that age group, along with the share of those with some college, have also reached record levels. This year, 90 percent were high school graduates, up from 78 percent in 1971. And 63 percent have completed some college work, up from 34 percent in 1971.  

Okay, do we have an educational crisis in this country?  Yes and no.

We certainly are continuing to graduate students from our K-12 system in continuing to rise numbers. 

More of them are going to college.

But there are two issues for each level of public education.

For K-12, it is the children who are dropping out or struggling mightily.  That continues to be a problem.  And it will - charters, voucher, no matter what.   How do I know that?

Because nearly 23% of American children live in poverty and we just went through the worst recession in our nation's history.  

Many ed reformers conveniently forget/ignore that fact.  (Or, if they do acknowledge it, they would call me a bigot for even bringing it up, believing that I think poor children can't learn.  Saying there's a poverty problem is NOT the same as saying poor kids can't learn.  ALL children can learn but where you start from matters.)

Now, the achievement gap is not the same as the opportunity gap, in my opinion.  The achievement gap exists because we have not found the way to give the supports that children need, no matter their achievement level.  The opportunity gap is the gap from where children start from in school and what can be done to narrow that gap for children now coming into the system.

Anyone who wants to lay all the issues in K-12 public education at the feet of the people in the public education system is just wrong and unfair.  Period.    

For higher ed, it's a problem for both students AND institutions. 

For students, it's two-fold.  Being prepared for college work and figuring out how to pay for the entire four years.  Graduating from high school does not mean you are ready for college.  There's a reason why there are programs geared for "college prep." 

As far as paying, I don't know what the answer is but I remember working long hours to help pay for my college education.  It made it much harder to be a good student. 

For public institutions, it's deciding how we support our institutions.  Should all public high ed institutions be there to take in the largest numbers of state students and make sure they all have degrees?  Is that the goal?  Or does having top-flight research universities matter to our state and our nation?

For example, the UW's Computer Science and Engineering department is now one of the top five departments in the country.  Private money has gone into it to attract top professors.  All of that has made for a department that is fantastic and yet, they are unable to offer space to all who want to enroll.  There is not enough room and not enough resources.  If the Legislature believes these are the types of educated people we want, then they need to find - the - money.  

Over the past few years, education experts have warned that the United States had undergone a worrisome “education reversal,” in which older Americans are more educated than younger ones. For example, in 2007, the share of adults aged 45 to 64 who had graduated from high school or earned a bachelor’s degree was slightly higher than among 25- to 29-year-olds. 

But now, the report found, “the education reversal that arose in the first decade of the 2000s has vanished or been reversed by recent improvements in the education attainment of young adults.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At minimum wage, most college students would be hard-pressed to pay for their education without financial and help from their parents—even IF they could get into the UW. Unless, of course they gave up sleeping and managed a 40-hr work week along with their college schedule.

Solvay Girl