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Governors Attend Conference to Discuss High School Education

Ohanian Comment:
NPR again acts as a forum for corporate clones to spew their bile. No questions asked. They actually labeled this entry as analysis.

Now we know what Gates meant, but look at what the transcript says he said.

Calling students in Bellevue, WA behind shows how disreputable are the claims of corporate America.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jennifer Ludden.

Forty-two governors gathered in Washington this weekend for a conference on high school education. There's widespread concern that a high school diploma doesn't mean much these days, and too many students don't even bother to get one. Universities and employers say many who do finish high school don't have the skills they need. We begin our coverage of this weekend's conference with a report from NPR's Rachel Jones.

RACHEL JONES reporting:

Jennifer Granholm of Michigan says the governors have no choice. Throughout the last century, people came to her state because they could get a great job in the automobile factories without a degree. Democrat Granholm says those days are gone.

Governor JENNIFER GRANHOLM (Democrat, Michigan): The latest auto factory that was built in Michigan is not hiring a single soul that does not have a college degree. Because you've got robotics on the line, you need people who can engineer the robots and maintain them. You need people who've got a sophistication with respect to math and science skills.

JONES: In Michigan, only 70 out of a hundred high school students graduate on time. Of that 70, 41 immediately enter college and only 29 are still enrolled a year later. Nationwide, nearly two-thirds of college freshmen need remedial tutoring in reading, math and science. And it's not just a problem at poorer schools with few resources. Kerry Killinger is chairman and CEO of Washington Mutual insurance company in Seattle. He told the governors that even students in wealthier areas, like nearby Bellevue, Washington, are falling behind in the global economy.

Mr. KERRY KILLINGER (Chairman and CEO, Washington Mutual): Despite the advantages that they enjoy, by the eighth grade, the Bellevue students have already fallen behind such countries as Korea, Japan, Singapore, Belgium, Hong Kong and the Czech Republic in math and science.

JONES: Killinger and other corporate CEOs teamed with the nation's governors because they say the lack of trained, well-educated workers is making their companies less competitive. Countries like India and China are producing many more students with advanced degrees. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told the governors that's happening in part because the American high school is obsolete.

Mr. BILL GATES (Chairman, Microsoft): Training the work force of tomorrow with these high schools is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It's not the wrong tool for the times.[sic]

JONES: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent nearly a billion dollars building new high schools and scaling down existing ones, but some governors fear this redesign movement will strain their tight budgets even more. They're also trying to figure out how their plans for high schools will fit in with President Bush's efforts. The president has proposed extending his No Child Left Behind law to high school. That would mean more testing for students and penalties for schools that don't measure up. Still, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican, believes his Statehouse colleagues shouldn't look to Washington for answers.

Governor MIKE HUCKABEE (Republican, Arkansas): I never believed that that was the role of No Child Left Behind was to find out that we've been wasting a lot of our money, spending it poorly, spending it inefficiently and somehow believing that that's the federal government's responsibility to fix what we messed up. It's our responsibility, but they helped to put the light on it, and that was what was helpful.

JONES: Governors spent this weekend focusing on tangible strategies for high schools, like beefing up curricula, teacher training and coming up with a uniform way to determine dropout and graduation rates. Thirteen states have formed a coalition to lead the way in redesigning schools and curricula. They'll be helped by a 42-million-dollar grant from six major foundations announced today at the summit. Rachel Jones, NPR News, Washington.

— All Things Considered
National Public Radio


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