Friday, March 31, 2006

The Spellings Report: Congressional Fun And Games!

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings testified before the House Education Committee Thursday. The topic was science education and the President's "Competitiveness Initiative." Here are some key statements from her testimony:
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the President's Competitiveness agenda today with a Committee that has been a leading advocate to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation and research. While testifying before this Committee is a departure from my normal Hill appearances, I think it underscores the need to rely on government-wide resources if we are going to give our students the skills to compete, work and lead in the global economy. And I've no doubt, the House Education Committee could benefit from hearing from some of my fellow colleagues here on the panel.

As all of you know, our children aren't growing up in the same world we grew up in. You can't pick up a newspaper or magazine these days without reading about global competitiveness, especially in math and science.

While we're sleeping every night, accountants in India do our taxes. Radiologists in Australia read our CAT scans. And technicians in China build our computers. In a recent Newsweek, there's even a cartoon poking fun at outsourcing NCAA office brackets!

As other nations race to catch up, there is mounting evidence that American students are falling behind. I know all of you have heard the numbers, but they bear repeating. Currently, our 15-year-olds rank 24th out of 29 developed nations in math literacy and problem solving. Almost half of our 17-year-olds don't have the math skills to work as a production associate at a modern auto plant.

We know that 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs require postsecondary education, and yet less than half of our students graduate from high school ready for college level math and science. Every year about a million students drop out of high school and nearly 5 out of 10 African American and Hispanic 9th graders don't graduate from high school on time.
Of course Spellings didn't fail to deliver her now-expected remarks placing total responsibility for the academic success of all 100% of America's students solely on the schools. As always, there with no mention at all of the need for parents and students to step-up and also accept some responsibility for their own progress:
We must align all our efforts with the principles of No Child Left Behind—by continuing to hold schools accountable for getting all students to grade level in reading and math by 2014 and by giving local policymakers and educators the resources, authority, and research-base to do what's best. And it's not just for reading and math... we'll have science assessments in place by 2007, and the President has called for them to be a part of the accountability system.
So let's see... if the President gets his way, (as I think is likely) we who are in the classroom doing the actual work will also be responsible for "all" of America's kids learning their science.

Reading, Math, and now science. What's next? Making schools responsible for getting kids to bed before 12:30 AM on school nights? It may be better not give the EduCracy in Washington any ideas...

It could happen.

One other thing...

Since Secretary Spellings seems to have all the answers, I wonder if she could let us know what kind of living-wage jobs that our children will be able to get after so many of the good ones have been exported to low-wage countries such as India and Authoritarian China.
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