Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SAT's Decline at around the same time Privatization and School Choice have Expanded Dramatically. Coincidence?

Funny thing about falling ACT test scores; it’s happening at the same time privatization and choice have expanded dramatically. Just a thought.

Unintentionally revealing, Bill Bennett, who was once U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988, makes the case against tearing down the public school model. Sure he sites supposed “liberal” educators who are more aligned with the far right wing privateers, but the underlying point he’s making is more an indictment of choice, than it is the evil and unbendable teachers unions.

Again, the statistics he mentions here fall well within the privatization timeline, and should be warning to all.  
CNN: Last week, the College Board dealt parents, teachers and the education world a serious blow. According to its latest test results, "SAT reading scores for the high school class of 2011 were the lowest on record, and combined reading and math scores fell to their lowest point since 1995." The reading scores, which stand at 497, are noticeably lower than just six years ago, when they stood at 508. And it's just the second time in the last 20 years that reading scores have dropped so precipitously in a single year. Yet, according to the College Board, there is no reason to panic. The results, they say, "reflect the record size and diversity of the pool of test-takers. As more students aim for college and take the exam, it tends to drag down average scores."

Bennett tries to portray that as a racist position, and fails, since “the record size” is really the main reason scores are lower. Everybody now knows college is a near requirement now, since unskilled manufacturing jobs have nearly disappeared. Everyone is now taking the test.

Bennett throws a lot of dollar amounts around as if they were wasted (and before the Dept. of Education existed), to prove his point. But a comparison between the U.S. in 1972 and 2011 is almost impossible to make now, except for growing for-profit privatization movement.  
The 2011 budget for the Department of Education is estimated to top $70 billion, while overall spending on public elementary and secondary education is about $600 billion a year. By comparison, in 1972, before the Department of Education even existed, SAT critical reading scores for college-bound seniors were above 525, more than 20 points higher than they are today, while today's math scores are only slightly better than in 1972.

Can you thank “choice” for magically saving education? Guess not.

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