K-12 education’s alarming decline and the 2024 election

George Will:

Ian Rowe, a charter school advocate, notes thatsince the “nation’s report card” was first issued in 1992, in no year “has a majority of whitestudents been reading at grade level. The sad irony is that closing the black-white achievement gap would guarantee only educational mediocrity for all students.”

Mysteriously (or perhaps not), California’s most recent standardized test revealed declines in math and English language arts — yet rising grades. Larry Sand, writing in City Journal, reports that 73 percent of 11th-graders received A’s, B’s and C’s in math, while the test showed that only 19 percent met grade-level standards. Among eighth-graders, the disparity was 79 percent and 23 percent. Among sixth-graders’ English scores, it was 85 percent and 40 percent. Amazingly (or perhaps not), the high school graduation rate has risen as students’ proficiencies have fallen.

Grade inflation, sometimes called “equity grading,” and “social promotions,” which combat meritocracy as a residue of white supremacy, leave a wake of wreckage. “According to World Population Review,” Sand says, “California now leads the country in illiteracy. In fact, 23.1 percent of Californians over age 15 cannot read this sentence.”

As alarming as what students are not learning is what they are being taught. Robert Pondiscio and Tracey Schirra of the American Enterprise Institutewriting in National Affairs (summer 2022), say “public education has drifted toward an oppositional relationship with its founding purpose of forming citizens, facilitating social cohesion, and transmitting our culture from one generation to the next.” The result is the emergence of what might be a dominant political issue in 2024: parental rights concerning educational content and curriculum transparency.

Remote learning during the pandemic, say Pondiscio and Schirra, “pried open the black box of America’s classrooms.” Progressives, anxious to slam it shut again, portray any public involvement in public education, other than paying for it, as an infringement of the hitherto unenunciated right of teachers to unabridged sovereignty over other peoples’ children. But as UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has said, “Someone’s got to decide what is going to be taught in K-12 schools.” Teachers, principals, legislatures, school boards — the First Amendment does not say whom.

“unlike the Establishment, with kids in private prep schools and only caring about blame-shifting”

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?