Archive for the ‘Alma Powell’ Category

American High Schools: Abysmally Few Graduates

April 2, 2008

Editorial
The Washington Times
April 2, 2008

Nearly one in three students drop out of high school before graduating. Only half of black and Hispanic students graduate on time. These are tragic, sobering statistics.

As reported by Amy Fagan of The Washington Times on Tuesday (April 1, 2008), the numbers from America’s Promise Alliance show a disparity between urban-suburban graduation rates of more than 35 percentage points. As few as 25 percent in some urban school districts graduate on time, compared to 75 percent of suburban schools (and even that is too low). The trend is not improving.
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A notable list of city and state leaders, government officials and urban organizations have forged together to address this “crisis.” Many education experts attribute part of the problem to schools that “hyper-inflate” graduation rates in addition to the schizophrenic standards used to calculate the rates. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said Tuesday: “One reason the high school dropout crisis is known as the ‘silent epidemic’ is that the problem is frequently masked or minimized by inconsistent and opaque data reporting systems.”

In other words, different schools use different measures to calculate dropout and graduation numbers. New Mexico counts 12th graders who graduate (not those who may have dropped out before the 12th grade); some states only count dropouts as those who fill out a written declaration. Still other states include GED recipients as graduates (even though most of them are dropouts).

That is just part of the problem. No matter “how” the numbers are calculated, one cannot ignore how abysmal the numbers actually are. Alliance founder Colin Powell called the problem a “catastrophe.” We couldn’t agree more.

The cities of Detroit and Baltimore are among the worst in our nation (with 24.9 and 34.6 percent graduation rates, respectively). The irony is that these “urban” school districts receive some of the highest per-pupil funding in the country. Detroit receives $11,000 per pupil, while Baltimore gets $9,600. The national average is $8,700. New York state is the highest at $15,000.

What does the U.S. Department of Education propose to do to help combat this dilemma? It will institute what it’s calling a uniform graduation rate under No Child Left Behind. In other words, every school must use the same standard to measure graduation and dropout rates. Education experts at the Manhattan Institute are calling the decision “a major victory for school accountability.”

The Department of Education says in the coming weeks it will “take administrative steps” and convene summits to decide which dropout “standard” to adopt. This is a department (and administration) that has been credited with “spending more on K-thru-12 education in the first three years, than Bill Clinton did in six.” Yet in many urban schools, we can’t graduate 75 percent. Action, accountability and standards are great concepts. Still unanswered is why schools that get the most money are still the worst performers? Who is held accountable for that?

Related:
Assessing American High School Students: Not a Pretty Picture

Assessing American High School Students: Not a Pretty Picture

April 2, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

In the average American big city among 17 assessed, only about 34% of the high school students graduate. About 60% of those same young people have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).What does this say about America’s future? And why aren’t we hearing solutions to these glaring social ills from our candidates for President of the United States?

“The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837.

Wouldn’t he be proud of today’s teenagers, their parents and teachers?

In the most recent study of high school graduation trends, seventeen of the nation’s 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report released April 1, 2008.

The study was conducted by America’s Promise Alliance, an organization founded by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell. His wife Alma chaired the assessment group.Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.jpg
Colin Powell while serving as Secretary of State.  We at Peace
and Freedom
have the utmost respect for Colin and Alma Powell for their work.

“When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it’s more than a problem, it’s a catastrophe,” said Powell. “This has to stop. We, as a nation, must correct this problem.”

“We must invest in the whole child, and that means finding solutions that involve the family, the school and the community,” said Alma Powell.

While more than one million boys and girls drop out of high school, more than 3 million girls nationwide have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

“This is pretty shocking,” said Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital in New York.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored the STD study.

“Those numbers are certainly alarming,” said sex education expert Nora Gelperin, who works with a teen-written Web site called sexetc.org. She said they reflect “the sad state of sex education in our country.”

“Sexuality is still a very taboo subject in our society,” she said. “Teens tell us that they can’t make decisions in the dark and that adults aren’t properly preparing them to make responsible decisions.”

The Associated Press reported that the teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and genital herpes, 2 percent.

Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention, said the results are the first to examine the combined national prevalence of common sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls.

He said the data, now a few years old, likely reflect current prevalence rates.

Disease rates were significantly higher among black girls — nearly half had at least one STD, versus 20 percent among both whites and Mexican-Americans.

Besides high school graduation rates and rates of sexually transmitted diseases, how else might we seek information on American teenagers?

One area already assessed is the rate that our nation reads and “self-educates.”

We’ve written about and commented about reading trends several times in multiple publications.

But a Washington Times editorial published November 21, 2007 said it best: when it comes to reading many Americans have decidd not to.

Bombarded with media, computers and video games, their reading habits are declining measurably. Nor is it simply the young.

In an unprecedented research synthesis released this week, the National Endowment for the Arts shows how reading habits have declined in recent years with a grim picture of what could only be called the nation’s nonreading public.

Here are some of the troubling highlights of “To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence.”

From 1982 to 2002, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who read literature dropped from 60 percent to 43 percent. Fifty-two percent of the same age demographic said they read a book voluntarily in 2002, which is down from 59 percent a decade earlier.

The percentage of 17-year-olds who read for pleasure almost every day dropped from 31 percent to 22 percent over the period 1984-2004. It also seems that a college education is ever less a guarantee of good reading skills. The sole bright spot occurs among 9-year-olds, whose reading comprehension has improved over the last decade.

Barring this exception, the results are remarkably and troublingly consistent in study after study. Money spent on books in the United States dropped 14 percent during the period 1985-2005 when accounting for inflation. Seventy-two percent of employers report finding high-school graduates “deficient” in reading comprehension.

And the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees who score “proficient in reading prose” fell from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003.

With the rise of the Internet and online news consumption, some might argue that queries about “reading” fail to capture the entire picture if they do not account for online activities. But all modes of reading are not equal.

We might take this argument more seriously when teenagers are found reading Shakespeare or Herman Melville online. Far likelier they are surfing MySpace or Facebook.

Our increasing failure to read constitutes a kind of creeping national illiteracy which should concern everyone, not simply librarians and booksellers.

Literacy is an integral aspect of civil society. Substance, culture and literature should not be the ironic casualties of the “Information Age.”

All we’ve discussed here still leaves out the disabling impact of drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy on our younger generation.

The only conclusion one can possibly draw from reading the reports on high school graduation rates, sexually transmitted disease rates and reading trends among American youth is this: unless action is taken we are a nation with a future at risk.

There are about 300 million Americans just now. There are about 1.3 billion Chinese.

And China has a world recognized machine for turning out the educated young people it needs.

One has to draw his or her own conclusions.
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Compiled from the official reports cited in the text, AFP, AP, UPI, Fox News, ABC News The Washington Times and CNN.

Related:

U.S. High Schools Graduate “About Half” in Cities

Study finds 1 in 4 US teens has a STD

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: Alarming Facts

Harry Potter: More Worthless Pop Culture

Kids reading fewer books despite Harry Potter hoopla

The End of Literacy? Don’t Stop Reading.

The Dumbing Of America; Nation of Dunces?

Government study: Americans reading less

High Prescription Drug Use and Abuse in Colleges

American High Schools: Abysmally Few Graduates

U.S. High Schools Graduate “About Half” in Cities

April 1, 2008
By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – Seventeen of the nation’s 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report released Tuesday.

Michelle Rhee heads Washington DC
public schools and has promised reform. 

The report, issued by America’s Promise Alliance, found that about half of the students served by public school systems in the nation’s largest cities receive diplomas. Students in suburban and rural public high schools were more likely to graduate than their counterparts in urban public high schools, the researchers said.

Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1.2 million students drop out annually.

“When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it’s more than a problem, it’s a catastrophe,” said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the alliance.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.jpg
Colin Powell while serving as Secretary of State.  We at Peace
and Freedom
have the utmost respect for Colin and Alma Powell
for their work.

His wife, Alma Powell, the chair of the alliance, said students need to graduate with skills that will help them in higher education and beyond. “We must invest in the whole child, and that means finding solutions that involve the family, the school and the community.” The Powell’s organization was beginning a national campaign to cut high school dropout rates.

The group, joining Education Secretary Margaret Spellings at a Tuesday news conference, was announcing plans to hold summits in every state during the next two years on ways to better prepare students for college and the work force.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080401/ap_on_re_us/
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