No White Child Left Behind

Is the glass half empty or half full? And if some people’s glasses are leaking, shouldn’t that be highlighted?

Today’s Star Tribune reports that the high-school class of 2007 in Minnesota had the hightest average ACT scores of any state in the country, and that Minnesotans’ average scores went up a bit.

But on page B5, where the story continues, we learn that average scores for blacks and Native Americans dropped this year, showing “a troubling achievement gap between students of color and white students,” according to an official of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

The headline and subhead on the front page of the B section celebrate the overall news: “State students are ACT aces for the third year in a row,” and “The Class of 2007’s average score on the college exam was tops in the U.S. and the highest since a test retooling in the ’90s.”

In a country where the gap between rich and poor is growing — and where a good education leads to higher income —  surely we all need to know when whole groups are falling behind. It’s too easy to only read the headlines and the few paragraphs on the front page — which in this case give a misleading and incomplete view of what’s happening. You bet it’s news, with education under fire and education funding hotly debated, when Minnesota schools do well by any measure. But it’s just as important to know what’s not working.

What if the headline had read, “Gap between white students and students of color growing”? The water-cooler talk this morning would have been less self-congratulatory. At least the subhead should have highlighted this growing problem that affects us all.

— Benidt

7 thoughts on “No White Child Left Behind

  1. If really you want to fix minority student achievement we need to be prepared to support expansion and maintenance of the traditional family unit.

    There is a direct and indisputable correlation between high academic achievement and whether the child comes from a traditional mom & pop led family (witness Asians, Indians, Jews, etc.)

    And as long as we subsidize and encourage social structures and behaviors outside this model, public schools will never be equipped to deal with the dysfunction occasioned by broken families.

  2. jl says:

    How do we “support expansion and maintenance of the traditional family unit?” I strongly agree that is extremely important, but I’m stuck on “how.”

  3. Lark says:

    Tax structures and incentives that reward traditional families help.

    Removing incentives to have out-of-wedlock offspring are huge, and painful. But they will work if given the chance.

    It would help too if MTV, TV1 and BET, the recording industry and the networks didn’t exalt and promote the get-laid-anytime ethic.

    Those three things would unburden schools immensely and close the achievement gap.

  4. Quick thought if anyone can embrace it. From what I have heard, not as many students are taking the ACT anyway because more institutions are demanding SAT results. Has anyone heard or know of the same? If that is the case, then such an accomplishment doesn’t mean as much — especially with the gap between white and black, and poor and wealthy.

  5. Ellen says:

    Actually, more and more universities (beginning with Harvard) are dumping the entire notion of requiring ACTs or SATs because they’ve realized the futility of trying to measure future academic success based on one stress-filled exam you take on one of the worst Saturdays of your life.

  6. Thank you Obi Wan. I knew you would have an answer for me. You are absolutely right. Even though you are able to retake them, test-taking of that high importance can make some poor-test takers go crazy although they probably know material. Again, the story seems to lack solid ground with such a proclaiming headline. Would universities be looking toward other areas for similar assessment or would they strictly focus on a student’s school performance? I know you have an answer, Mighty E.

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