Saturday, March 17, 2007

"The revenge of the failures"

The Superintendent of Public Edition for Mississippi recently urged greater regulation of homeschoolers. Bruce Shortt, the guy who instigated a proposal that all Southern Baptists should remove their kids from public schools, wrote an acerbic reply. I've copied, below, probably the most useful tidbits:

[T]he same education bureaucrats who consume an annual cash flow of roughly $600 billion to achieve previously unknown levels of semi-literacy and illiteracy among otherwise normal American children feel compelled from time to time to abandon their diligent pursuit of intellectual mediocrity to offer proposals for regulating homeschool parents.

The latest outbreak of education bureaucrat compassion comes from Mississippi.


[I]f Bounds really wants to characterize a failure to educate as "child abuse," then what is to be said of him and his bureaucrats who are responsible for a school system in which a catastrophic failure to educate is the norm? According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, often known as "The Nation's Report Card," Bounds' bureaucrats have failed Mississippi's children and taxpayers as follows:

1. Reading: 82 percent of Mississippi's fourth-graders cannot read at grade level, with 52 percent not being able to read at even a basic level. By eighth grade, 82 percent of Mississippi's children still cannot read at grade level, with 40 percent being unable to read at even a basic level.

2. Mathematics: 81 percent of fourth-graders are below grade level in math, with 31 percent lacking even a basic grasp of mathematics. By eighth grade, math illiteracy is burgeoning in Mississippi: 86 percent of students are below grade level in math, with 48 percent lacking even a basic understanding of mathematics.

3. Science: 88 percent of fourth-graders are below grade level, with 55 percent lacking even a basic knowledge of science. By eighth grade, 86 percent of Mississippi's children are below grade level, with an amazing 60 percent lacking a basic grasp of the subject.

Lest anyone be under the impression that the NAEP has unusually high academic standards, testimony before the Board of Governors for the NAEP indicates, for example, that the "advanced" mathematics questions for the eighth-grade NAEP are at best comparable to fifth grade questions in Singapore's math curriculum. [That's one of the math programs our company, Sonlight Curriculum, carries! --JAH]


And just where does the performance of Superintendent Bounds' Mississippi education bureaucracy put Mississippi's children nationally? Dead last in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math (tied with Alabama), and third from last in fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading. Note that Bounds' schools manage to produce these prodigious levels of academic failure by spending roughly $7,000 per student per year, an amount that would pay tuition at many, many excellent private schools. One shudders to think what Bounds' "educators" might accomplish with even more money.


As it turns out, in a basic battery of tests that included writing and mathematics, homeschooled children whose mothers hadn't finished high school scored in the 83rd percentile while students whose fathers hadn't finished high school scored in the 79th percentile. Bear in mind, too, that children in Mississippi public schools do not on average come close to doing this well on any legitimate, nationally normed test.


By attacking homeschool parents, Bounds is playing a familiar game. The goal is to distract the public's attention from the abject failure of the public schools for which he is responsible. After all, no government school system so thoroughly fails to educate as Bounds' schools. . . . Bounds wants the public to believe that the same bureaucrats who daily busy themselves producing massive illiteracy in Mississippi's public schools should have more power over homeschool parents, even though homeschooling parents are already doing a magnificent job with their children.

For the complete article, see
blog comments powered by Disqus