Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big-city schools struggle

It's great to see this study made the front page of the USA Today -- it's so critical that a bright and steady light shines on the catastrophic failure of many of our urban school districts. We in the school reform movement often take it for granted that most people -- certainly most leaders in business, politics, etc -- understand this, but, shockingly, MOST DON'T. And there's a simple reason: this crisis DOESN'T AFFECT THEM -- at least not directly, since their kids are in private schools or they have the means to live in communities with decent schools. (By the way, kudos to the Gates Foundation for funding this study! And if anyone has a copy of it, please email it to me.)
Big-city schools struggle

WASHINGTON — Students in a handful of big-city school districts have a less than 50-50 chance of graduating from high school with their peers, and a few cities graduate far fewer than half each spring, according to research released on Tuesday.

Fourteen urban school districts have on-time graduation rates lower than 50%; they include Detroit, Baltimore, New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Denver and Houston.

The findings present a bleak picture and are sure to generate controversy as lawmakers and others push to keep U.S. students competitive globally.

While the basic finding that the nation's overall graduation rate is about 70% is not new, the study suggests that graduation rates are much lower than previously reported in many states. It also could bring the dropout debate to the local level, because it allows anyone with Internet access to view with unprecedented detail data on the nation's 12,000 school districts.

Among the nation's 50 largest districts, the study finds, three graduate fewer than 40%: Detroit (21.7%), Baltimore (38.5%) and New York City (38.9%)...

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