Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chainging The Culture About Our Children by Akindele Akinyemi

Since President and CEO of the International Women's Forum Michelle Bernard has given educational activists the green light for us to push for an educational revolution tonight on her nationally televised town hall meeting on MSNBC with Dr. Bill Cosby we need to transform the way we view education in urban areas. Between watching the town hall meeting, called About Our Children and the educational documentary 2 Million Minutes, I am fully convinced that we need to change the culture immediately in our urban centers to compete in a 21st global educational and economic model.

The real war is not between Democrats and Republicans or liberal or conservative. The media has done such a great job in confusing people with these labels. The real war is the lack of education in our communities whether those communities are black, white or Hispanic. While countries like India and China are becoming the center of attraction globally academically the United States continue to fall behind the global standards. We can no longer look at this as a race or political problem. It is a threat to national security.

In the documentary 2 Million Minutes
it shows when a student completes the 8th grade, the clock starts ticking. From that very moment the child has approximately Two Million Minutes until high school graduation, to build their intellectual foundation and to prepare for college and ultimately career.

How a student spends their academic career from 8th grade to 12th grade in class, at home studying, playing sports, working, sleeping, socializing or just goofing off will affect their economic prospects for the rest of their lives.

Statistics for American high school students give rise to concern for our student's education in math and science. Less than 40 percent of U.S. students take a science course more rigorous than general biology, and a mere 18 percent take advanced classes in physics, chemistry or biology. Only 45 percent of U.S. students take math coursework beyond two years of algebra and one year of geometry. And 50 percent of all college freshmen require remedial coursework.

This fall at Michigan's colleges, thousands of students are arriving with great expectations -- only to find themselves relegated to paying for high school courses without even receiving college credit. Those courses are called remedial classes, which students have to take because they were so poorly prepared in their K-12 schools.

At Michigan State University, the proportion of incoming freshmen who need remedial classes jumped to 28 percent today from 25 percent last year. At Delta College north of Saginaw, 81 percent of incoming students need remedial classes. That number has grown 3 percent in recent years.

The growth is a sign, some experts say, that Michigan school districts are not taking seriously the implementation of the new high school curriculum that state leaders adopted in 2006 to better prepare students to succeed in the knowledge economy.

It;s not just hitting urban communities like Detroit and Flint but also upscale areas like Rockford, Michigan. The
upscale suburban city outside of Grand Rapids, where most families send their children to four-year universities. What most parents in Rockford don't know: The district's latest state test scores show only 24 percent of its kids are college-ready in all subjects based on ACT indicators, which colleges use for admissions.That suggests most of those students will have to take remedial classes, a predictor of college failure.

Now it is true that more Michigan schools are meeting federal education standards, helping them avoid costly sanctions, but they are graduating with the skills to compete in Michigan and America but are nowhere close to global standards.

An estimated 80,000 jobs go unfilled in Michigan and an additional 30,940 jobs could go unfilled in the near future, according to a 2008 EPIC/MRA future business study. This indicates Michigan's high rate of unemployment has more to do with a lack of necessary education and training among residents than a lack of employment opportunities. Studies indicate there is a strong correlation between increases in average test scores and national economic growth. In country after country, a boost in test performance was linked to a distinct rise in annual per capita gross domestic product growth, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Even students going directly to entry-level jobs or entering technical schools need higher-level thinking and math skills, researchers have found across the country.

The more math Americans learn, research shows, the more money they earn. Students who take challenging high school courses, especially in math and science, will earn $1 million more than students who do not.

Algebra II, in particular, is a predictor of success in college and in getting a good job in the knowledge economy -- more than race, socioeconomic status or family income.

While many of us are playing partisan politics and discussing how each party is racist have anyone payed attention to our students scored next to last, world-wide in advanced math? In Physics the U.S. scored at the very bottom of the heap.

American 15 year olds came in below average, at country ranking #29 in science and rank position #35 in math according to Program for International Student Assessment based in Paris, France.

The international 'Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)' reported, : "the effectiveness of the U.S. primary and secondary education system can be characterized as
mediocre at best."


What about in June 2006 when Achieve, Inc., a bipartisan, nonprofit education organization formed by governors and prominent business leaders, found that math and English tests for high school diplomas require only middle school knowledge, and that those math graduation tests measure only what students in other countries learn in the seventh grade?

What about reading numerous reports that
home-schoolers scored 70% higher than public school students on standardized national achievement tests, regardless of race, economic status, or regulation levels?

Or the decline in the number of U.S. citizen science graduate students still continues, and that the growth of business administration Ph.D's lags so far behind population growth that major business schools now employ professors to teach graduate level business courses that, according to the dean of MIT's Sloan School of Management "don't know a lot about business?"

Or found out in February 2005 to read that China produced 4 times more BS engineering degrees than the U.S., and Japan twice as many. Nobel Prize-winning scientist R.E.Smalley of Rice University reported "by 2010, 90% of all Ph.D. physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asian living in Asia." The International Math & Science Study reported U.S. 12th graders were out-performed by 90% of other nations in math and 76% in science. In advanced math the US was out performed by 94% and in science by 100% of other nations. The American Association for the Advancement of Science reported 90% of math books and 100% of science text books are unacceptable.

Or found out in 2005 when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that the testing of 300,000 students nation-wide showed that 82% of 12th grade students were not proficient in math and science - - even worse than 10 years earlier. 73% of 4th graders failed to gain proficiency scores. 8th graders showed no improvement in the past 10 years. When the test was taken again in 2006 over 65% of 12-graders were not proficient in reading, a worse result than 1992 when the test was initiated.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the information age not the industrial revolution. While we sit and play partisan politics the global experience will pass us up. Camden, New Jersey spends $27,000 per pupil and still have a failing school district. While it is true that American schools do a particularly poor job of educating blacks and Hispanics, one should not conclude that white students in middle-class suburbs are uniformly well served. In mathematics and science, the nation's top high school students rank far behind much less elite samples of students in other countries.

China, is likely to become a major center of global technological innovation, as it joins Japan as a scientific and technological power. The United States graduates about 60,000 engineers each year; Japan 70,000. China is now graduating about 325,000 engineers annually. Think about it.

What is worse is that our students fall further behind those from other nations the longer ours are in school. For example: our 4th graders performed mediocre since 46% of other nations outscored them in math. But it gets worse. By the time they were in the 8th grade they were outperformed by 68% of the other nations. And, lastly as mentioned above, by the time they were in the 12th grade they were outperformed by 90% of other foreign nations. This is indeed shocking, signaling that an education gap opens up wider and wider vs. other nations as ours progress from one grade to another.

Our children do not appreciate educational values. It's time that they do. Parents and stakeholders must begin to transform their thinking in terms of thinking global. This is part of the silver rights movement. Again, we do not need political parties to give us our marching orders. Stakeholders like Michelle Bernard has already given us that challenge. It's time for us to move away from meaningless debates and start concentrating on our future.

Lastly, its time to increase our educational output to attract diversity into our community. We do not need race baiting or fighting against regional cooperation to create a new educational incubator that will help our students prepare to become global citizens.

We must change the culture of education if we want to promote global education. We start NOW.


Jane said...

Michelle Bernard failed to inform her audience--at Howard University and those of us watching at home--about the background of Parent Revolution, about its corporate bankrollers, and about its intent to dismantle public education by privatizing schools. This has been a goal of The Walton Family, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Cato institute for a while now, and it has NOTHING to do with quality education. Michelle Bernard used her position at MSNBC to spread anti-public schools, anti-teacher's union propaganda to her unknowing viewers. And she did it in a university no less. Beyond shameful.

Background on Parent Revolution; LA schools fight school privatization effort.

Akindele F. Akinyemi said...

Are the foundations you listed actually anti-public schools? Anti-teacher union? That I do not want to hear. We are trying to reform education here in Michigan and we are in jeopardy of not getting federal money because of the largest teacher union in the state will not negotiate.

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