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Mpls Public Schools: a victim of 'conservative' reforms
Subj:     k-12 education: Massive investment / reforms
Date:     8/20/2002 7:19:59 PM Central Daylight Time
From:     Socialist2001
To:     gpm@listserver.jriver.com [MN Green Party]

We need a massive increase in spending on education.
Across the US, appropriations for the K-12 public school system
from all sources, reckoned as inflation-adjusted dollars per pupil,
has steadily declined since the 1970s.  Ditto for higher education.

We need massive reform in some school districts, but not in others.
The educational establishment in the US was generally on the right
track during the 1970s and early 1980s, if you're idea of being on the
right track is closing the test score gap without lowering the bar
for high achievers. That began to change after the release of a 1983
report entitled "A Nation at Risk," which was issued by a blue ribbon
panel of K-12 education experts picked by the Reagan-Bush administration.

The thesis of A Nation at Risk: The test score gap was being closed at
the expense of high achievers [during the 1970s and early 1980s].  
However, the first Bush administration ordered the Sandia National
Laboratories [a division of the dept. of energy] to do an analysis of
data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal
testing program.  The thesis of A Nation at Risk was proven wrong
by this study, which the Bush administration suppressed [it was
quietly released during the early years of the Clinton administration]

[An example of] the type of reform successfully promoted since 1983
is tracking students into nonacademic curriculum tracks as early as
Kindergarten through the use of ability-grouping.  The US was
the first, and may still the only country where ability-grouping is done in
elementary schools.  It was widely introduced during the late 1950s and early
1960s in order to keep black students in their place, i.e., in the
"low-ability" groups.
Minnesota provides a chilling example of how the post-1983 K-12
school reform movement has set back the gains of the civil rights
movement in the field of education.  A generation ago 68% of blacks
and 76% of whites graduated from high school in Minneapolis.  Today
only about 33% of black ninth graders finish high school on time in the state
of Minnesota. The graduation rate for black students in the Minneapolis
Public Schools is much lower than that.  On the other hand, graduation
rates for black students (the US average) have improved to a modest
degree.  

The quality of education provided to the majority of students
in other big city school districts has also declined in the past decade,
but the public school system in Minneapolis takes the cake.
The graduation rate for African American students in the
Houston Public Schools is about 50%.  That's about where its
at in some of the other big city school districts like Seattle,
Chicago, New York, etc.   

Sorry for not citing my sources in this post. I have posts
at my web site that cover the same ground with sources
properly cited.

-Doug Mann