Obama puts spotlight on education deficit

CAROL’S SUMMARY: According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (2006), the United States ranks in the bottom half–16th among 27 countries compared–in the proportion of students who complete college degrees or certificate programs. President Obama has committed his administration to raise this standard so that by 2020, U.S. graduates lead in college graduation rates world wide. His appeal isn’t only in terms of what we owe our young people ethically, but what it’s costing us as a nation financially. In this country, 1.2 million high school students drop out every year. This translates into 9 out of every 30 students. Of those 9, 4 will be unemployed, 3 will be on government assistance, and 2 will have no health insurance (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development www.ascd.org).

Turning around this disturbing trend must start earlier than high school. An article published by the Chicago Tribune (Dec. 11, 2008), reported that college preparation begins in elementary and middle school, too, based on separate studies by the ACT and the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research. The ACT report found that students who earned average scores in 8th grade had only a one-in-four chance of scoring high enough on the ACT to go to college. The Consortium study reported similar predictions.

These findings pose several important questions:

1) What can be done at the elementary school level to prepare students for success in middle school? Are we as a country addressing the needs of the whole child? Not only academically, but emotionally and socially?

2) What are middle schools (and parents) doing to prepare students to make a smooth transition from 8th grade to high school, what districts call “the freshmen transition”? As school reform advocates, how can we expand and support these programs?

3) What skills will graduates need in the 21st-century in order to complete globally? How can we help ensure that our schools are building the skills into the core curriculum?


He wants U.S. to have highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
By Frank James, Posted February 25, 2009 at www.latimes.com

Reporting from Washington — President Obama on Tuesday laid out a series of challenges for the nation to meet in job training and college attainment, part of an effort to give every child a “complete and competitive education.”

The president, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, said his administration would provide the support needed to give the U.S. the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. He said there was a vital need for Americans to complete more years of education if the nation is to compete globally.

Visit www.latimes.com for the entire article

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