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Shame of a Nation


After a decade of No Child Left Behind and three more years of Race To The Top, Black and Latino teenagers in U.S. schools are performing at academic levels equal to or lower than those of 30 years ago. According to a study by the Education Trust (one of the main supporters of NCLB), reasons for the low performance include:

  • Lowered expectations for students of color
  • Growing income inequality and lack of resources in low-income school districts
  • Unequal access to experienced teachers
  • An increased number of "out of field" teachers instructing minority students in subjects outside their area of expertise
  • Unconscious bias" by teachers and administrators.

"Young people of color are overrepresented in the poorest schools and the poorest neighborhoods," says Dominique Apollon, research director of the Applied Research Center. "There is a cumulative and compounding effect of structural deficiencies in many schools." 

The study points out that low-income minority students are also more likely to have newly minted teachers, many of whom aren't equipped to help under-performing students get on track.


Florida SOS tweeter, Rita Solnet @ritacolleen makes similar points in response to latest Florida school district rankings. Tweets Rita: "FL's top ranked Sch District [St. Johns County] has lowest % of poor children. We need a study to tell us that?" She adds, "FL's worst ranked District [Madison County] had highest % of poor children (at 78%). Again, we needed a study for this?

You're right Rita. We certainly don't need another look at FCAT scores to tell us that poverty and racial segregation and isolation continue to have a major impact on measurable student learning outcomes in Florida and elsewhere, despite the denials by many corporate school reformers who continue to brush off these factors as "excuses." These latest studies should sound the alarm that current administration policies are not working. The continued use of student standardized test scores as the main basis for teacher evaluation, "merit" pay and closing and punishing schools in poor communities, will only continue to reinforce this shameful trend.


If you need more evidence that these issues transcend the classroom, take a look a how Florida's 67 counties stack up on the deliverance of health care. Once again we find wealthy, white St. Johns County near the top (3) and largely poor and black Madison County near the bottom (65). 

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Mike Klonsky

Mike Klonsky is an educator, writer, school reform activist, and director of the Small Schools Workshop (