As George W. Bush famously asked, "Is our children learning?"
Apparently not in the twin capitals of liberalism, D.C. and New York.
In a ranking of 50 states and D.C. by how much each spent per pupil in public schools in 2005, New York ranked first; D.C. third. The state spent $14,100, and New York City just a tad less.
And the bountiful fruits of this massive transfer of taxpayers' wealth? In D.C., nearly half of all black and Latino students drop out. Of those who graduate, nearly half are reading and doing math at seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade levels. D.C. academic achievement ranks 51st, last in the U.S.
Yet last week came a report from New York that makes D.C look like M.I.T. Some 200 students, in their first math class at City University of New York, were tested on their basic math skills.
Ninety percent could not do basic algebra. One-third could not convert a decimal into a fraction.
If this was a representative sampling, nine in 10 CUNY students not only do not belong in college, they do not qualify for their high school diplomas. As for that third who can't do decimals and fractions, they should not have been allowed into high school until they could do sixth-grade math.
As 70 percent of all CUNY students are graduates of city schools, a question arises: What are the taxpayers of New York getting for the highest tax rates in the nation?
If a private business annually turned out products that were of inferior quality than the year before, management would be thrown out by the board. Yet, the education racket has been shaking us down for four decades, and turning out graduates that know less and less.
Scholastic Aptitude Test scores peaked around 1964. Ever since, the national average has been in an almost unbroken descent.
So embarrassing did it get that, a few years ago, the SAT folks retooled the test to produce higher scores. Now there are more 1600s. But the national average continues its decline, and the gap between blacks and Hispanics, and Asians and whites, endures.
Is it not a time for truth?
Just as there are many kids who do not have the athletic ability to play high school sports, or the musical ability to play in a high school band, or the verbal ability to recite poetry well or star in debate, not every kid has the academic ability to do high school work.
By the end of the first two months in first grade, an alert kid can tell you who are the smart ones and who are the athletes.
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