Monday, April 26, 2010

A classroom revolution

Some AMAZING charts that I'm going to incorporate into my school reform presentation in this Economist article about what the Conservatives in the UK are proposing to fix that country's school system, which is as dismal as ours:

Turning schools around matters both for economic growth and for social justice. Britain is an unequal place, with income disparities higher than in most rich countries (see chart 1). It is a rich country where 4.8m adults and 1.9m children under 16—a sixth of all of children—live in workless households; where four in every 100 girls under 18 get pregnant each year; where even during steady economic growth a tenth of 16-18-year-olds were neither studying nor working. And a child's chances are strongly shaped by the prosperity of the family into which he is born.

Schools are hardly the sole cause of these woes, yet British schools tend to make matters worse. Although the current Labour government has doubled spending on schools since coming to power in 1997, pupils are falling behind their counterparts in other rich countries. Their recent showing in the tests of 15-year-olds' reading, mathematics and science skills carried out by the OECD, a rich-world think-tank, has been sobering. Between 2000 and 2006 Britain tumbled down the OECD's rankings in all of them (see chart 2). Though the pricey private schools attended by a mere 7% of children are mostly outstanding, state schools are often mediocre. According to the OECD, their quality is more variable than in most other countries, too, and poor children are very likely to end up in the worst ones.

Stoking middle-class parents' concerns is the simple fact that education matters even more for a child's life-chances in Britain than in most other rich countries. Its universities form a steep hierarchy, with Oxbridge at the top, so national exam results really matter. And in such an unequal society, the financial returns from education are very high (see chart 3).


Transforming Britain's schools

A classroom revolution

The Conservatives' plans to change Britain's deeply flawed education system may be the most interesting idea in this election

Apr 22nd 2010 | From The Economist print edition

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