What does this essay identify as problems in American education?
Ten years ago, Julia Richman High School ranked among the very worst schools in New York City. Two thirds of the freshman class quit before graduation. One cafeteria fight ended in gunfire outside. Employees of nearby Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital walked all the way around the block rather than risk passing the school's front door. Education? Most Julia Richman kids considered themselves lucky just to get through the day
Out among the cornfields of Georgetown, Del., Sussex Technical High School faced different problems. Enrollment had dropped by nearly half as its vocational program fell out of step with the high-tech economy. Test scores were among the state's lowest, and many students dropped out.
Nearly one in four 17-year-olds reads below grade level. Almost 1 in 3 who enters college needs remedial classes before he can handle basic freshman courses. And despite recent gains, American high school kids still score much lower than their peers abroad in math and science.
Try as they might, educators, parents, and students may never be able to break the back of some of the problems that block student success. Poverty, domestic strife, and drugs are, too often, slam-dunk bad news. Many school districts, especially the poorest, can't find and keep good teachers. But often, it's the WAYS kids are educated that hurt their performance.
there's no doubt that when kids are lumped together in large numbers, learning problems multiply. Nearly 60 percent of America's public high school students go to school with 1,000 or more teens, and some urban behemoths are four times that size. Students often shuttle between lectures given by teachers who barely know the kids' names, much less their dreams and problems.
Many teachers and parents assumed that only the college-bound minority needed an academic challenge. The rest were allowed to just float along. Gut courses and lax...