Daily Dispatches
Second-grader Tammer Ali does a worksheet in an English Language Learner summer school class at the Cordova Villa Elementary School in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli
Second-grader Tammer Ali does a worksheet in an English Language Learner summer school class at the Cordova Villa Elementary School in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

U.S. education still failing, despite federal improvement programs

Education

Renewing America, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations, recently released a report emphasizing the importance of education and the failure of the United States education system to teach its students well. 

It cited studies saying educational improvement is the ticket to economic growth, and claimed, “Human capital is perhaps the single most important long-term driver of an economy.”

With this backdrop, the researchers found U.S. education in an unhappy state.

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Decreasing numbers of students are graduating high school. Half of students who make it to college still aren’t finished after six years. Also, while elite private colleges keep dropout rates low, community colleges and public universities graduate a lower percentage of their students than colleges in any other developed country.

Despite many government programs, the achievement gap between high- and low-income students is also growing. The report said the “tight grip” of socioeconomic status increasingly hurts student achievement. 

People wonder if more federal programs are really going to help. A New York Times article asked, “Can schools provide children a way out of poverty? We are still talking about this despite decades of clucking about the crisis in American education and wave after wave of school reform. Whatever we’ve been doing in our schools, it hasn’t reduced educational inequality.”

The study found that the US already pours more money into post-secondary education than any other developed country. At the same time, though, it spends less on instructional expenses than other developed countries. It spends instead on school buildings, extracurricular activities, and student career and counseling services. 

After complaining about the “poorly constructed” and “disappointing” No Child Left Behind, the report jumps into new initiatives and policies that the US needs in order to fix the education system. It promises that new reform, meaning more rules and more money, is what schools need.

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