Governors of 13 States Play to Raise Standards in High Schools
Ohanian Comment: Although I've already posted so many versions of this article that my fingers hurt, I cant resist this one.
Note the descriptors of the players:
Chester Finn, education scholar.
Note that the New York Times didn't offer space for one single dissent from any education scholars from our side.
I keep repeating myself, but if you want to know how people like Finn and Romer and Ackerman play out in the corporate plan, then read Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools. They are all in there--in ugly detail.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 - The governors of 13 states with more than one-third of the nation's students said Sunday that they were forming a coalition to improve high schools by adopting higher standards, more rigorous courses and tougher examinations.
Unless the nation takes drastic measures on high schools, they said, the United States will lose its competitive position in the world economy.
"For the first time, a group of states will reshape an institution that has far outlasted its usefulness," said Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio, a Republican. "More than five million students each year - 35 percent of public high school students nationwide - will be expected to meet higher requirements under this landmark initiative."
The 13 states are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. Other states are expected to join the coalition in the next few weeks.
Six foundations offered $23 million to help states remodel their high schools. The largest grant, $15 million, was from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which directly assists hundreds of high schools across the country.
Over the weekend, governors, business executives and Bush administration officials built political momentum for the ambitious agenda on high schools at an "education summit" meeting convened by the National Governors Association.
Mr. Taft said the skills required for college and for jobs in the 21st century were "very similar." The Labor Department says two-thirds of all new jobs will require some postsecondary education.
Arthur F. Ryan, chairman of Prudential Financial, said business executives would lobby state legislatures to carry out the agenda announced on Sunday.
Governors and education officials in the 13 states said they would take the following steps:
¶Raise high school standards to reflect the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in college or the work force.
¶Restore the value of a high school diploma by requiring all students to take rigorous courses that prepare them for college and work.
¶Test students regularly to measure their progress in meeting stringent state standards. Colleges and employers now pay little attention to state test results because the exams do not measure the skills that students will ultimately need.
In addition, governors from the 13 states said they would hold high schools accountable, by publishing more data on dropout and graduation rates. Some states focus on the proportion of 12th graders who fail to graduate, overlooking the fact that many high school students drop out before their senior year.
Chester E. Finn Jr., an education scholar who served in the Reagan administration, said the conference could be a turning point, forcing governors to face a two-pronged problem: "Many kids graduate from high school without having learned much, and significant numbers of kids are not even graduating."
"Governors who put their mind to this can make a really big difference in their states," Mr. Finn said in an interview. "The education system responds to external pressure, carrots and sticks, and governors are pretty good at wielding those."
Arlene Ackerman, the superintendent of schools in San Francisco, said: "To those of us at the local level, it's really important that governors are making this a priority. High schools will, as a result, get more attention and resources."
President Bush's education secretary, Margaret Spellings, welcomed the initiative. "Talk is cheap," she told the governors, "but you all have a record of solving the problems you talk about."
The conference was the fifth national summit meeting on education, but the first devoted to high schools. The original session, organized by the first President Bush in 1989, ended with a mandate to devise a set of national goals for education. Subsequent sessions promoted testing and accountability, codified in the education legislation known as the No Child Left Behind Act. Under that law, signed in January 2002, public schools must test students yearly in Grades 3 to 8 and once during high school.
President Bush called recently for annual tests in reading and mathematics in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. "I've heard every excuse in the book not to test," he said in a visit to a high school in Falls Church, Va. "My answer is, how do you know if a child is learning if you don't test?"
Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat who is chairman of the association, said governors wanted higher standards for high schools but not "the rigidity" of No Child Left Behind, with its "bureaucratic oversight from Washington."
Among those supporting the governors' initiative are the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, with a grant of $4 million; the Carnegie Corporation of New York, $2 million; and the Wallace Foundation and the Prudential Foundation, $1 million each.
Arne Duncan, the chief executive of Chicago public schools, said his city had simply shut down some failing high schools and moved students to higher-performing campuses.
Roy Romer, a former governor of Colorado who is now the superintendent of schools in Los Angeles, said it was essential to replace large, impersonal high schools with "smaller schools where a child knows all the faculty and they know him." Mr. Romer said Los Angeles had several high schools with more than 5,000 students, adding that "a kid can easily get lost in a school of that size."
"The success of a state economically and socially depends on the quality of the schools," Mr. Romer said in an interview. "So governors must take political responsibility for schools in their state," even if they do not have the legal responsibility.
Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, said an aging population made it more difficult to muster support for large investments in public education.
Mr. Rendell estimated that 12 percent of the adults in Philadelphia had children in public schools. This, he said, helps explain why it is difficult to pass referendums for school construction.
New York Times
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