Education Gap Encore

Time for a full entry today.

Quick note: I love Mike Luckovich’s cartoons. He drives right to the heart of the matter. This take on Glenn Beck pretty much sums up the whack job. There’s a reason Luckovich has won two Pulitzers for Editorial Cartooning, one in 2006 and one in 1995. Wow! Kato! Is he still alive?

The main event: I hope this entry is the final one, at least for a while, on the subject of public education in Connecticut.

The running joke in Louisiana is “Thank God for Mississippi” because on every measure where Louisiana ranks low, its neighbor to the east generally ranks even lower, usually at the bottom. So for example, measuring high school graduation rates, Louisiana comes in at 69 percent, Mississippi at 62. (Florida and D.C. rank below Mississippi in this category.) With the “skinniness” factor — Louisiana had 33 percent obesity, Mississippi, 34.4.

Now everyone will be able to say, “Thank God for Connecticut.” We should feel truly humiliated that the achievement gap in reading and math between poor and rich is the widest in the country. The gap between minority and white students is among the worst. Shame on Connecticut.

We flunked the Race to the Top. “Unrealistic Expectations.”

The state’s gap between black males and their white counterparts has received national attention. “Education Gap.”

Now we have businessmen and educators discovering the rich/poor divide among fourth and eighth graders. “Educational tragedy” is a great description. Now that they’ve rediscovered the chasm, what will they do to fill it?

I feel passionate about this subject because education is the only way for young people to acquire the skills needed to survive in this society. I don’t think that every single child should be pushed toward four years of college and then graduate school. In fact I think we’ve put too much emphasis on that sort of learning. After high school, or even during, students should have the opportunity to explore – to sit with a software engineer, to follow an electrician, to shadow a dental tech or a car mechanic. No matter what they do after they finish school, everyone should learn to balance a checkbook, to drive, to swim (I failed miserably on that score), to do basic household maintenance, and to understand enough about finances to see whether their 401(k) plan should be reallocated.

But until the state honestly confronts its income disparities and decides that all children should have equal access to education, the rest of the country will continue to say “Thank God for Connecticut.”

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