The secret to the great success of American industry and innovation throughout the country's short history, to its now default position at the forefront of the world economy, is also the missing link in the mystery of the country's failing education system. Imagine the proposal to make college admissions and corporate and industry personnel decisions on a basis not of individual merit but the results of a random lottery; and yet, this is exactly the latest new thing in education at the lower levels of our education system.
When asked by a potential community partner what was the one thing that could be done to improve the health of its citizens, Dr. Adewale Troutman, the then newly appointed director for Louisville’s health department* answered, “to make sure that everyone graduates from high school”. Like many others, the community partner wondered - what does high school graduation have to do with health?
Step One: Call It Out
Education has been labeled the “civil rights issue of our time.” Dropout factories––high schools where no more than 60% of the students that start as freshmen make it to their senior year––has become a common-day term. These low-performing public schools tend to be in the poorest zip codes across our country. The negative impacts of poverty on the health and education of students is well documented, mostly affecting kids of color who tend to live in lower-income communities.
I recently hosted an education event in which I invited Martha J. Kanter, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, at Frederick Douglass Academy, my alma mater, in Harlem.
The Education Commission of the States, a national policy organization, made a small splash earlier this year with its list of the 12 hottest education issues for 2012. But it’s no surprise that it didn’t get more attention.
There is no question that obtaining a college degree is essential, especially in these times of high unemployment. A recent Gallup poll showed that 73 percent of college graduates are employed fulltime, compared to only 58 percent of those with a high school education or less.
Maya Rockeymoore interviews Rev. Jesse Jackson to discuss education reform and the education achievement gap in the United States.
The Reverend Al Sharpton discusses how people of color are not being served by U.S. public schools and how we can close the achievement gap in education.
Dennis Van Roekel presents the National Education Association’s views on revitalizing the public educational system, reforming schools and revamping accountability systems for 21st century learning, and ensuring sustainability of public education.
Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University talks about her incredible experiences meeting with hundreds of teachers and policy makers. Topics include school reform, U.S. education policy and No Child Left Behind.