Thursday, December 14, 2006

“Flabby, Inefficient, Outdated”

This is a title of an op-ed piece by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in today’s Wall Street Journal. (As of this writing, it is not a free link.) Now I don’t necessarily agree with Mayor Bloomberg on a lot of things, but when it comes to education, he seems to understand just how dysfunctional public school systems have become.

Here is the first paragraph:

“Today a bipartisan commission of high-profile academic, government, business and labor leaders selected by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) will release a report that provides a sobering assessment of our nation’s education system: Only 18 out of 100 high-school freshmen will graduate on time, enroll directly in college and earn a two-year degree in three years or a four-year degree in six. Just 18! [Emphasis added.]

(Note: I realize that some kids enter the military right after high school, and they may be included in the 72% who don’t get college degrees within ten years of completing high school. No disrespect intended towards members of any uniformed service.)

I was thinking about this today. Let’s look at another sobering issue concerning the youth of today: How many will grow up in a stable, two-parent family from birth to age 18? Given that close to one out of three children are born out of wedlock and that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, my guess is that the answer to my question is less than 50%. If you have an accurate number, please let me know. (Yes, I understand that some kids are orphaned, too.)

Let’s say the answer to this question is 40 out of 100. Now, I am guessing that out of that number, more than 18% meet the criteria of graduating from high school on time and earning an associate’s degree within seven years of entering high school or a bachelor’s degree within ten years. Conversely, I am guessing that of those high school freshmen who graduate on time and complete college education and earn those college degrees within seven or ten years, more than 40% come from stable, two-parent families.

I wonder if there are any statistics correlating stable marriages and education.

While I was preparing to type this blog entry I had this evil thought: Someone will write a dystopian novel in which good students are “outsourced.” That is, schools will become so desperate to enroll good students that they will import them from overseas (e.g., India or China) rather than enroll domestically-born kids. Maybe poorly-behaved kids will get “deported” to other countries as a form of banishment.

Maybe I think too much! ;)