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Education is Everything

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 13, 2009 8:15 AM |

Has there ever been a time when increased skills and education have not been vitally important to furthering one’s well being? As we move forward in developing our ‘new’ economy, education and advanced skills will be increasingly more important.

I would only wish that the dirty little secrets embedded in urban education were more widely disseminated so that ‘real’ progress can be made. I see evidence of these secrets again this morning in reading the New York Times. The lead article in the right hand column of the front page highlights, Black-White Gap in Jobless Rate Widens in City:

Unemployment among blacks in New York City has increased much faster than for whites, and the gap appears to be widening at an accelerating pace, new studies of jobless data have found.

While unemployment rose steadily for white New Yorkers from the first quarter of 2008 through the first three months of this year, the number of unemployed blacks in the city rose four times as fast, according to a report to be released on Monday by the city comptroller’s office. By the end of March, there were about 80,000 more unemployed blacks than whites, according to the report, even though there are roughly 1.5 million more whites than blacks here.

Across the nation, the surge in unemployment has cut across all demographic lines, and the gap between blacks and whites has risen, but at a much slower rate than in New York.

Economists said they were not certain why so many more blacks were losing their jobs in New York...(LD’s highlight)

What? Not certain? Once again, economists and public policy analysts are not being honest on the disastrous state of urban education. I highlighted this point the other day in my call for total transparency and honesty on this topic. In writing Warren Buffett: “Wall Street Owes the American People”, I called for:

1. honesty on where we currently stand across all aspects of our economy and society. Publicize our successes and, more importantly, our failures so we can properly address them.

Do not allow urban education dropout rates of 50% to be swept under the rug. Promote the correlation between those figures, single parent birth rates, income levels, and criminal behaviors. BE HONEST ON THESE TOPICS!!!

While economists and the New York Times itself may not want to publicize education statistics, the fact is New York City’s public schools, like most major urban schools, are disproportionately filled with minority students.

For New York City, that breakdown is:

The racial makeup of public school students is 36.7 percent Hispanic, 34.7 percent black, 14.3 percent Asian, and 14.2 percent white.

The specialized high schools tend to be disproportionately white and Asian.

In terms of graduation rates, the New York City Department of Education released on June 22, 2009:

the City’s four-year graduation rate rose to 56.4 percent in 2008 from 52.8 percent in 2007 and 46.5 percent in 2005. The five-year graduation rate rose to 62.6 percent in 2008 from 58.8 percent in 2007 and 55.7 percent in 2006. The six-year graduation rate rose to 61.8 percent in 2008 from 58.5 percent in 2007.

Blacks and Hispanics are narrowing the gap in the overall graduation rates with their white and Asian counterparts, but the overall numbers remain daunting. We learn:

Overall, 51.4 percent of black students in the class of 2008 graduated in four years, compared to 47.8 percent in 2007 and 40.1 percent in 2005. This 11.3 point increase over two years compares to a 7.5 point increase among white students and a 7.8 point increase among Asian students during the same period. Similarly, 48.7 percent of Hispanic students in the class of 2008 graduated in four years, compared to 43.5 percent in 2007 and 37.4 percent in 2005, an increase of 11.3 points over two years.

While progress is being made in NYC’s overall high school graduation rates, are the numbers truly representative of students prepared to move forward in life or is the system still being gamed to a large extent?  How uncanny that today’s New York Times also highlights, Makeup Work Allows Students to Slide By, Critics Say:

A year after reports showed that New York City high schools were offering failing students a chance to earn credit simply by completing worksheets or attending weeklong cram sessions, educators say the system of making up schoolwork is still abused.

Not that I have the answers to solving the urban education problems in our country (I am fully supportive of further promotion of charter schools and student vouchers), but I do know that without being totally honest and transparent on the issue, real progress will never be made.

In the process, the very minorities whom politicians and public policy experts claim they want to help will continue to suffer.


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