Sunday, April 15, 2007

Follow-up on Friday's email

Friday night's email on the almost-impossible-to-believe numbers from Newark and Camden have prompted quite a few responses already.  My father, who lives in Kenya and is working on a project to build a school system in southern Sudan (which for decades suffered from a genocide like Darfur's today (remember The Lost Boys of Sudan?) until a peace agreement was signed a couple of years ago), commented:
These statistics are frightening.  The ratio of students graduating in relation to the number of students Grade 1 in Camden must be getting pretty close to our statistics in Southern Sudan – the worst education system in the world.
The idea that Camden, spending roughly $20,000/student/year, could have educational outcomes similar to freakin' southern Sudan is mind-boggling!!!
Another friend wrote:
The state of education is truly horrifying.  I am trying to hire an Assistant and give a basic skills math test taken from a 5th grade math book.  I can't find anybody who passes. 
Questions include:
- What is 1/8th of 80? 
- 6 is ___% of 40
- Circle the lowest number:  0.3   0.33   0.3003   3.3
Beyond the low skills is ethics.  We ask candidates to show their scratch work and not use a calculator.  Many check their work on the sly with calculators built into their cellphones (and still fail!).  On Thursday, I walked back into the conference room to see if an appicant had finished and found her talking to someone on her cellphone checking answers...  Guess she was using the Regis Philbin "phone-a-friend" method.   
I'm trying not to get depressed over the state of our educational system.

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