The Myth of Failing Public Education

With all the DeVos talk, I am seeing a lot of people weighing in on the current state of education in this country. And something that severely disappointed me was seeing a former educator insist that public education is failing (indicated by other nations outperforming us) and maybe it is time to try something different.

Ok, let’s get some things perfectly straight.

Standardized tests ARE NOT an indication of whether someone will be successful, they only measure very narrow things which almost always gets lost when people use the scores to compare broad things – like how good a teacher is (who did not take the test), how good a school is (schools can’t take tests), or even *gasp!* whether someone is a good student or not. As outlined in an ASCD article by noted education expert James Popham, standardized tests only measure very specific knowledge, framed in a very specific way, at one specific time in one specific person’s life.

The U.S. is OUTperforming the rest of world in the PISA test (that is the test that nearly everyone uses to say our education system is failing) ONCE YOU CONTROL FOR KIDS WHO ARE POOR. (Read the analysis HERE)[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]  

Let that sink in. The poor kids don’t do nearly as well as the rich kids. I wonder if you would care too much about a test if you were hungry? Or working a job for your family? Or having to watch your siblings while your parents work a second or third job? And guess what, if you look at our slump in test scores, they correspond with the rise in child poverty rates in the U.S. By the way, that makes us the worst industrialized nation IN THE WORLD for how many of our children are in poverty. America First, right?

Long story short? The U.S. doesn’t have an education problem, we have a poverty problem.

And schools cannot fix that! Look at Michigan! 38 schools that are “poorly performing” on their test scores. Here’s what the Detroit Free Press said: “Most, if not all, of the schools on the list have a heavy concentration of high-poverty students. There is a high correlation between poverty and low academic performance.” Well, what do you know?

Trevor Stefanick is a public school teacher in West Michigan.[/read]