Monday, August 27, 2007

My Babydaddy Made Me Do It

A Lexington Herald-Leader columnist claims, implausibly, that public schools are actually doing a great job if you factor in teenage pregnancies and lead paint.

Then, as if to prove the point that he had no point, the writer shifted from discussing Kentucky to providing all his data from New York.

According to Tom Layzell, the retiring president of the (Kentucky) state Council on Postsecondary education, "Too many students fail to graduate from high school, and of those who do, too many go to college unprepared. Too many college students fail to graduate in a timely manner. And too many adults lack a high school diploma."

But by whose standards or what rationale does this criticism of education emanate? While it would be nice if all children were scholars, it is truly amazing that our kids' educational progress is as high as it is.

While Layzell's brand of criticism is rampant, it does not recognize the changed society in which we live. The problem is that critics look at education today through a prism of the past, but today's society is vastly different.


New York City records show that although only 50 percent of children graduate from high school in four years, almost 70 percent finally graduate and another 8 percent receive General Education Development certificates.

Paul Attewell and David Lavin, professors of sociology at the City University of New York, found that more than 28 percent of bachelor's degree recipients obtain their diplomas more than six years after entering college and that 70 percent of women attending CUNY had graduated after an even longer period of time.

Excuses and spinning blame won't help us have better schools in Kentucky. The bottom line is Kentucky schools can't reasonably be expected to improve until we implement policies to better measure student achievement and better monitor resource allocation. SB 130 was a good step. Next year's HB 15 would be another.