- Shocking statistics, such as 40% of Baltimore high schools having not a single proficient math student and a continuous decline in ACT performance, reveal the crisis in American education
- What’s even more concerning is the trend in certain states, like Oregon, where they are eliminating high school graduation testing requirements, potentially leading to serious consequences
- Neglecting measurement and accountability in education harms students’ development and readiness for college or careers
- Standardized testing, which evaluates fundamental skills in subjects like English and math, plays a vital role in determining whether students are well-prepared for success in higher education and the workforce
According to Fox News in Baltimore, in 40% of Baltimore City high schools (thirteen campuses), not one student showed proficiency in math. Not one. We noted in May that New York City students place in the bottom 42% of the global student population taking the SAT. The ACT reported last month that for the sixth year in a row, the performance of high school students fell, this time to the lowest level since 1991. 43% of test takers did not meet any college readiness benchmarks.
Last week, the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district in North Texas won a ballot initiative 59%-41%. Voters approved the district’s request to float municipal bonds to the tune of $973 million for rebuilding two high schools and improving a few more middle schools. The referendum line warned in caps, “WILL INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES.” But it passed overwhelmingly.
The district already collects a hefty slice of property taxes, increasing as home valuations increase by 10% yearly. And for each student that attends school, the State of Texas sends upwards of $6,160 annually to the district. But these amounts are for operational expenditures such as staff and teacher salaries and pensions.
The district wanted money to rebuild infrastructure, and voters approved it resoundingly (even many voters who do not have school-going children at home). For a district that educates just 26,000 students in Kindergarten through the 12th grade, a $1 billion infrastructure spending proposal is massive. But Americans love to invest in the public education system at the cost of paying much higher taxes to ensure that it trains our children to be ready for a career or college after high school graduation. Career and College Readiness is the buzzword goal of every level of government – local, state, and federal.
Yet, despite trillions of dollars spent on K-12 education nationwide, America’s children are failing miserably. We don’t even know how badly they are failing because woke districts and state governments are passing laws that don’t want us to know. Testing to see if children are learning is now verboten because of fears that such testing may reveal how nasty the wound is.
The official reason is that testing is inherently discriminatory against minorities. So, students should be allowed to earn a high school diploma without demonstrating that they are competent enough to have one.
Last month, the State of Oregon cemented a policy through 2029 that it first floated as an experiment during the dark days of Covid in 2020. Accordingly, high school students do not need to prove they have mastered essential reading, writing, or math to graduate. Leaders at the Oregon Department of Education and members of the state school board said requiring all students to pass one of several standardized tests or create an in-depth assignment their teacher judged as meeting state standards was a harmful hurdle for historically marginalized students, a misuse of state tests and did not translate to meaningful improvements in students’ post-high school success. This is nonsense.
Testing students on these “scholastic skills” has been a cornerstone of the American K-12 system. The tests do not determine whether a student has mastered science, a foreign language, history, civics, or geography. They just ascertain if a student can write foundational English using proper grammar. In math, they measure if a student has mastered introductory algebra and data analysis – such as translating a word problem into a linear equation or reading a graph and drawing conclusions. These skills are essential to success in college or a career after high school.
Historically, school districts have employed multiple ways to measure student proficiencies. The state agency conducts a state-wide test (like STAAR in Texas, Regents in New York). Students in the 11th grade take the PSAT, a test conducted by the College Board but mandated by school districts. The SAT/ACT, never mandatory, also determines English and Math proficiency, although the scores are not shared with the school district unless the district pays for the test.
The SB 744 law that Oregon passed eliminated these tests as a requirement for graduation through the 2027-28 school year. 3,000 miles to the east, according to the New York Times, the Regents exams may become optional to earn a high school diploma in New York. With thousands of colleges waiving the SAT/ACT as requirements, how will we know if our children will be competitive in their careers or college? That is the point. Our leaders don’t want us to know.
Lord Kelvin, the 19th-century Scottish-Irish physicist William Thomson, known for inventing the international system of absolute temperature, said that “when you cannot measure something in numbers, your knowledge is meager and unsatisfactory.”
Our education leaders are preventing the measurement of our most important asset – the human capital of our youngsters – and are hastening to rush them through life, punting their unpreparedness for society to handle. But our education elite, including the teacher’s unions, want citizens to trust them to do what they think is right and continue to throw even more money into the sinkhole. As we saw from the HEB ISD billion-dollar bond referendum, voters continue to fall for the trick.
It is a terrible way for the world’s wealthiest nation to cope with competition from China and other countries. It is a national emergency of seismic proportions, but no national leader talks about it.
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Geopolitics And Geoeconomics
Israel says its troops have found the body of a second woman held hostage by Hamas during a search close to Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted Israeli forces have not been “successful” in minimizing civilian casualties in Gaza – but blamed Hamas. Netanyahu said Hamas commanders were inside the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza but fled just before the military raided the site earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the UN says a lack of fuel means it can no longer bring aid into Gaza.
The heads of numerous United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations said they would not take part in Gaza’s “safe zones” declared by only one side of the conflict.
“As humanitarian leaders, our position is clear: We will not participate in the establishment of any ‘safe zone’ in Gaza that is set up without the agreement of all the parties,” they said in a joint statement.
The UN has criticized Israel’s calls for civilians in Gaza to evacuate to so-called safe zones in the south.
The Russian defense ministry said its forces had destroyed two Ukrainian Neptun anti-ship missiles over the Black Sea.
Belarus has been collaborating with Moscow in the forcible transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied Ukraine in a program “directly overseen” by the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko.
Yale School of Public Health’s Humanitarian Research Lab (HRL)’s research revealed the finding. The report said at least 2,442 children aged between six and 17 years old had been taken to 13 facilities across Belarus since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
The United Kingdom’s newly appointed foreign secretary, David Cameron, has visited Ukraine to underline British support for Kyiv amid its ongoing war with Russia.
The former prime minister, making his first working trip abroad as Britain’s top diplomat, told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that his country would support Ukraine for “however long it takes.”
Nearly 20,000 men have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the war to avoid being drafted, the BBC has discovered.
Some have swum dangerous rivers to leave the country. Others have simply walked out under cover of darkness. After Russia’s invasion, most men aged 18-60 were banned from leaving. But data obtained reveals dozens have made it out daily.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he hoped President Putin would run for another term as Russian president in the March election, a move that would keep Putin in power until at least 2030.
Putin, who Boris Yeltsin handed the presidency on the last day of 1999, has already been in power for longer than any other Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin, beating even Leonid Brezhnev’s 18-year tenure.
President Biden told world leaders that his meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping the day prior was fruitful but did not necessarily mean the relationship between the world’s two superpowers would now be “all kumbaya.”
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit, Biden said the talks, which produced deals to restart military-to-military contacts, stem fentanyl exports from China and discuss artificial intelligence regulations, had been “candid and constructive.”
After meeting with Xi Jinping, President Biden, in a solo press conference, repeated his view that Mr Xi is a dictator while answering a question.
China’s foreign ministry called the remark “irresponsible political manipulation,” but it doesn’t appear to have soured Beijing’s portrayal of the meeting.
People’s Daily, the biggest state-run newspaper, called the four-hour bilateral a “new starting point” for China-U.S. relations. Many Chinese are calling for a “win-win” relationship on social media.
In their first meeting in a year, the leaders of Japan and China agreed to find a solution to resolve their differences over the release of wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
In San Francisco, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed the need for “a calm and scientific approach” to discharge treated water. According to a statement, he also called for the immediate end of Chinese import restrictions on Japanese seafood.
Of 88 UK universities surveyed by Civitas, a British think tank, 46 responded that they had received between £122 million ($151 million) and £156 million from China since 2017.
According to the think tank’s report, this includes research collaborations and one-off or multiple donations from Chinese entities.
30% of this Chinese funding comes from entities linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, including those sanctioned by the United States.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is unlikely to agree to a fresh request by Turkey to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets, as tensions simmer over several issues, including Turkey’s condemnation of Israel.
According to Turkish officials, Erdogan will probably ask Scholz at a meeting in Berlin to lift a block on the sale of the fighter planes he needs to refresh an aging airforce. Germany produces the Eurofighter in a consortium with three other countries.
The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission delays vote on Sweden’s NATO application after lawmakers express reservations.
The commission, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controls – can pass bills by a simple majority. Erdogan said this month that he would try to facilitate the ratification process but added Sweden had not taken enough action on Kurdish armed groups.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Syria must “take all measures within its power to prevent acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The ruling is part of an ongoing case brought forward by the Netherlands and Canada in June 2023 centered on accusations of torture and crimes against humanity carried out by Syrian authorities against its citizens during the country’s 12-year civil war.
The European Union approved the use of the controversial herbicide glyphosate for another ten years. But there will be new conditions and restrictions, the EU Commission said.
Glyphosate is one of the most widely used weedkillers in the world, but critics point to evidence that it may cause cancer and pose a risk to biodiversity. The substance is the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup weedkiller.
The new rush for lithium in Africa risks fueling corruption and harming local communities and the environment, investigations have shown.
Called the “white gold” of the renewable energy revolution, lithium is a key component of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are vital for storing energy produced by clean energy like solar or wind if the world is to break from fossil fuels.
China has a virtual monopoly on lithium extraction in Africa. According to estimates from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, 83% of Africa’s forecast lithium supply this decade will come from projects at least partly owned by Chinese firms.
Wearable devices may provide the answer to working out which older adults are at future risk of frailty-related health complications by tracking their circadian rhythms, results from a new peer-reviewed study show.
Trials by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers involving 1,022 people 80 and older fitted with the devices found that they could, in some cases, detect variation in subjects’ daily patterns of rest versus activity that suggested future frailty more than six years before onset.
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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights