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The High Rate Of High School Graduate Failure Who Really Failed: Students Or The System?
http://www.users.bigpond.com ^ | July 9, 2003 | Phyllis Schlafly

Posted on 09/28/2003 4:34:22 PM PDT by ATOMIC_PUNK

The High Rate Of High School Graduate Failure (July 9, 2003)
Who Really Failed: Students Or The System? by Phyllis Schlafly

All over the country, students, their parents and teachers are in an uproar about the tens of thousands who flunked the test designated as the requirement for high school graduation. Threats of withholding diplomas have brought out accusations, recriminations, and even angry mobs.

States have devised various ways to deal with this crisis. Award the diplomas anyway, stonewall the complainers, keep the students in school an extra year, postpone the deadline to 2004 or even 2006, lower the standards, lower the cut-off score, reduce the number of questions a student must answer correctly, substitute another test, or seek test waivers from the federal government.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2001 doesn't mandate a test for graduation, but it does require all schools to implement standards and annual tests in reading and math for the third through eighth grades, and show "adequate yearly progress" not only for the school but for minority subgroups. The buzz word is accountability and non-compliance brings costly sanctions.

The Act was passed with bipartisan support. But the Democrats' biggest constituency, the teachers unions, opposed the tests initially and are now inciting the clamour against them, along with the usual whine that the solution is more money.

I'm going to venture the heretical opinion that I sympathize with the students who flunked. After the school failed to teach them to read, gave them good grades and promoted them year after year, it's no wonder they feel cheated when they are denied diplomas.

How did anybody expect the students to pass their 4th grade, 8th grade and 12th grade tests if they didn't learn phonics in the first grade? Don't lay the guilt on the students; lay it on the system that failed the students.

On June 19 the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) , known as the Nation's Report Card, reported that 36 percent of 4th graders cannot read at what the test defined as a "basic" level. The figure for whites is 25 percent, for Latinos 56 percent, and for blacks 60 percent.

The NAEP report also revealed the consistent and dramatic decline of all reading skills in the upper grades. One in four 12th graders cannot read at a "basic" level, down from one in five in 1992.

The explanation for this depressing report is obvious. Elementary school children can memorize a few hundred words so they are recorded as reading at grade level, but when they get to high school they can't read the bigger words because they were never taught phonics (the system of sounding out the syllables and putting them together like building blocks).

The public school establishment adamantly refuses to teach first graders to read by phonics even though study after study, including one released in June by the National Institute for Early Education Research, shows that phonics is essential to becoming a good reader. Some teachers colleges even peddle the paranoid theory that phonics is a "Far Right" conspiracy.

The public school establishment is digging in its heels against the Bush Administration program called Reading First, which offers $5 billion over six years to state and local school districts to help every child read by the end of the third grade. The schools are running to their pals in the liberal media to air opposition to the requirement that a proven, successful reading system be used.

To conceal the public school's abysmal failure to teach reading, education theorists who call themselves "social constructionists" are "departing from traditional notions of reading and writing" and trying to "redefine what it means to be literate." They are spreading the ridiculous notion that literacy does not mean reading the printed text, but is "inherently social" and flows from students developing "ways of thinking from such socially based experiences."

According to these academics quoted on the Electronic Classroom website, "meaning from text is not `out there' to be acquired but is something that is constructed by individuals through their interactions with each other and the world." So, students can "construct" their own understanding of the text by interacting with their (probably semi- literate) peers.

The role of reading teachers is supposedly "not to impart universal truths about text but to foster an environment where learners come to construct understanding through interaction." It's more important to engage in "student talk as opposed to teacher talk."

Under this new definition of literacy, you can call yourself literate if you can send a terse e-mail that has been spell-checked, or you can engage in electronic chat sessions. "Being literate ... means being able to communicate in a post-typographic world."

Teaching reading is not rocket science. Parents who care about their children's education should teach their own children to read using a good phonics system, which is what I did with my six children.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: bushdoctrine; education; graduation; naep; nclb; phonics; phyllisschlafly; readingfirst

1 posted on 09/28/2003 4:34:23 PM PDT by ATOMIC_PUNK
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Parents failed for not demanding excellence from their schools.
2 posted on 09/28/2003 4:44:17 PM PDT by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: OldFriend
My daughter could read before she started kindergarten. To me, reading always was a joy. Does anyone else remember those "Wide Horizons" books? In this day and age, it is a crime that some parents are not encouraging their children to read. They are sentencing their children to a less successful and rewarding life. It's not as if a phonics lesson is rocket science.
3 posted on 09/28/2003 4:53:52 PM PDT by Unknown Freeper
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
I believe that the Educrats are underestimated, and seen as incompetent.

Apart from their obvious financial interest in the current system, perhaps their ambitions and the social goals they strive for have nothing to do with whether kids become literate and numerate.

It seems to me, on the face of it, that the Educrats are winning.

4 posted on 09/28/2003 4:55:05 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Plenty of finger pointing possible but blame is much easier than solutions...Bill Bennett had it right when he recommended there was no longer any use for a Dept Of Education. Let states attack the problem however they see fit with Federal funds kicked in to those states who show real progress. Attack the NEA, no small feat, since they are the nation's LARGEST organized lobbying organization.

The President has it right with accountability being the foundation of an educational reform program. Eliminate the union barriers that effectively keep out those who want to teach. Administrators outnumber teachers...ridiculous, restore sanity to our educational system.
5 posted on 09/28/2003 4:56:57 PM PDT by Tarl ("Men killing men, feeling no pain...the world is a gutter - ENUFF Z'NUFF")
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To: Tarl
Administrators outnumber teachers

I agree with your basic premise, but the above statement is not even close to true. Pick a school--any school and ask.

6 posted on 09/28/2003 5:10:55 PM PDT by ntnychik
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Parents need to sue the teachers' unions that ruined their schools.
7 posted on 09/28/2003 5:17:28 PM PDT by abclily
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
To conceal the public school's abysmal failure to teach reading, education theorists who call themselves "social constructionists" are "departing from traditional notions of reading and writing" and trying to "redefine what it means to be literate." They are spreading the ridiculous notion that literacy does not mean reading the printed text, but is "inherently social" and flows from students developing "ways of thinking from such socially based experiences."

This would be laughable if not so utterly tragic in consequences.

8 posted on 09/28/2003 5:19:57 PM PDT by stevem
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
The public school establishment is digging in its heels against the Bush Administration program called Reading First, which offers $5 billion over six years to state and local school districts to help every child read by the end of the third grade.

I disagree with the administration here.

Every child should be able to read before being promoted out of first grade, barring dyslexia or other disability.

9 posted on 09/28/2003 5:39:05 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: headsonpikes; Tarl
On June 19 the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) , known as the Nation's Report Card, reported that 36 percent of 4th graders cannot read at what the test defined as a "basic" level. The figure for whites is 25 percent, for Latinos 56 percent, and for blacks 60 percent.

And if 25% of whites, 56% of Latinos, and 60% of blacks are retained in the lower grades, the NAACP will sue the schools, claiming that more people of color fail because the schools are racist.

10 posted on 09/28/2003 5:43:56 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Every day I'm gladder and gladder (I know it's incorrect English but today I don't care) that we homeschool and can bypass all this garbage. The sense of freedom and peace that comes when you are completely divorced from government schools is indescribable.
11 posted on 09/28/2003 5:52:11 PM PDT by Lizavetta
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
It's not going to get any better. Face it, it really can't be fixed. No Child Left Behind is a joke because the federal government lets states make it a joke. Schools are already seeing how they can manipulate test scores to make administrators look good using Enron accounting. Figures don't lie but liars figure.

Did you know that there are 52 persistently dangerous schools in the United States? There are probably 52 persistently dangerous schools in NYC alone if school officials were honest and didn't screw around with the public.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0309280514sep28,1,4100847.story?coll=chi-news-hed
12 posted on 09/28/2003 5:58:19 PM PDT by ladylib
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To: OldFriend
Parents unfortunately are afraid to question the education experts because they're afraid the "educrats" will make them look stupid. And guess what? The educrats will try to make parents feel and look stupid -- "Why, you're the only one who questioned that!"

Today's parents don't know to question the schools because they received approximately the same sort of crappy education 20-30 years ago. Today it's a little less competent academically and a lot more outrageous as far as indoctrination goes -- alternative lifestyles, radical feminism, etc. It's all done incrementally, however. A little bit at a time.

Kids go to school, jumping through the hoops, getting all those A's, and wondering, along with their parents, how come they're flunking their high-stakes tests.

Some schools indoctrinate kids with all sorts of garbage, yet the kids don't go home and question their parents about whether or not a line is being crossed, because they think the school officials are the experts and since the parents send them to school, the parents are okay with it.

13 posted on 09/28/2003 6:15:01 PM PDT by ladylib
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To: ladylib
Everyone said New York City was ungovernable. During Dinkins, it was.

Rudy proved different.

The schools can be changed. So far no one has the courage to take on the NEA and politics be damned. Of course, they would also have to go into the witness protection program after instituting rules and regulations that benefit the kids.

14 posted on 09/28/2003 6:20:49 PM PDT by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: ladylib
Today's parents don't know to question the schools because they received approximately the same sort of crappy education 20-30 years ago.

YOU went to private school, you're older than that, or you're just especially bright?

15 posted on 09/28/2003 6:22:41 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: OldFriend
The schools can be changed. So far no one has the courage to take on the NEA and politics be damned. Of course, they would also have to go into the witness protection program after instituting rules and regulations that benefit the kids.

PART of what happened to the schools was womens' lib. Before womens' lib, really bright career-minded women became nurses and teachers and secretaries. Now they become doctors and lawyers and accountants and engineers.

The people who become elementary school teachers are either the ones who really really want to teach, or the ones who want to go to college, but can't pass in any other major. The latter are PART of the problem. (Secondary education is tougher, because you also have to take subject-matter courses.)

16 posted on 09/28/2003 6:32:00 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
My Sunday Providence Journal had an article that indicated that out current Cabinet member Education Secty (Who??) that joined the admin sfter cleaning up the Houston school system and increased the graduation rate statistics to ,like 98%, was really creating a fraud reporting system, and that further analysis indicated that this school district really had a drop out rate of something on the order of 35%.

Tomorrow, I'll try to find the article on-line, and post for all. ??Any others with data??
17 posted on 09/28/2003 6:36:16 PM PDT by aShepard
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To: Amelia
When mothers entered the work force, they exited their children's daily lives.
18 posted on 09/28/2003 6:38:07 PM PDT by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: aShepard
You are referring to Rod Paige (sp?)
19 posted on 09/28/2003 6:39:00 PM PDT by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Actually, it really depends:

I had a student for the last several years in my band program - until he just decided that playing video games was his top priority. His Junior year he barlely kep his grade point to the minimum to participate. He mother was contacted many times and she too tried what she could (single mom- away from the home a lot of hours with two jobs to support herself and her two sons). His senior year (last school year) was even worse. He got a part-time job at the local grocery store. So - his day consisted of oversleeping (missing one to 3 periods regularly), getting to school and sitting through class, gripe about the eligibility requirments, get out of school, go to work, get off work, play video games (unless it was a day he didn't work, in which case he played video games right after school until he fell asleep).

Only passed two classes (three if you count band, but he didn't get credit for that because he missed too many days by oversleeping), thus he didn't graduate. His mother even paid for a correspondance course to help him graduate on time - he didn't even do the first assignement.

He was not going to return to try to finish his credits to graduate, but my understanding is that his mother threatened to kick him out of the house if he didn't.

The child was encouraged and pushed by nearly evey faculty member at the school, including me. His mother did what she thought she could. So who's fault was it?
20 posted on 09/28/2003 6:43:49 PM PDT by TheBattman
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To: OldFriend
When mothers entered the work force, they exited their children's daily lives.

Yes, they did. Then parents started divorcing each other in larger numbers, so more and more children were without fathers most of the time, and also without their mothers who then had to work, even if they hadn't before the divorce.

Parents who are guilty because they aren't there for their children tend to be much more lenient with discipline & other things. They don't like to scold, or sometimes they are too tired to scold or to help with homework.

When I was a child, if a couple had been living out of wedlock, they'd have been shunned and their children probably wouldn't have been allowed to play with the other children - I'm sure the other children wouldn't have been allowed to visit the sinful household.

21 posted on 09/28/2003 6:46:54 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Thought you might be interested in this thread.
22 posted on 09/28/2003 6:49:31 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
They are spreading the ridiculous notion that literacy does not mean reading the printed text, but is "inherently social" and flows from students developing "ways of thinking from such socially based experiences."

According to these academics quoted on the Electronic Classroom website, "meaning from text is not `out there' to be acquired but is something that is constructed by individuals through their interactions with each other and the world." So, students can "construct" their own understanding of the text by interacting with their (probably semi- literate) peers.

The role of reading teachers is supposedly "not to impart universal truths about text but to foster an environment where learners come to construct understanding through interaction."

I reely don't see what's the problim here. This makes perfeck sence.

23 posted on 09/28/2003 8:04:53 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Lizavetta
Amen!

As father of 3 (with another approaching pre-school material), I am extremely pleased with the education my home-schooled children have received. They each are studying material a grade or more higher than their peers. We can school when is convenient for us (expecting #5!) in the manner that works best (each child is radically different) without concern about contradiction with our faith (check out David Limbaugh's book if you are skeptical that this happens).

IMHO, the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents. If children are failing to be educated, the first line of defense lies with parents at (hopefully) home. I am sickened over the story from TheBattman. At the end of the story, however, I view the parent(s) as ultimately responsible for that child's conduct. Where was the accountability? Where was the sense of responsibility? Where was the intervention? Granted, this was a very brief description. I also understand (more with each passing day) that you cannot necessarily dictate what another person does. You, as a parent, can dictate expectations and consequences.

We have a very simple structure in our home:
1. What is the expectation (e.g. get your homework done; achieve minimum grade of xxx; etc.)?
2. What is the consequence?
3. Who makes the choice (the child)?
This is how we live our adult lives. Our society expects that I drive in certain manners. Failing to meet those expectations necessitates a consequence. Ultimatly, it is up to me decide whether I comply or not.

One last soapbox rant, and then I will turn over the soapbox to next in line:
Are we raising children or adults? I assert that parents should be about the business of raising adults. We can let them be children in the right places and at the right times, but the inevitable goal should be to train them to be functional adults. TheBattman's student appears to have been raised to be a child - hence, the apparently self-fulfilling prophecy.

</arm-chair quarterbacking rants>
24 posted on 09/28/2003 8:36:44 PM PDT by Kosh5 ("We are all Kosh")
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Schlafly bump..
25 posted on 09/28/2003 10:00:17 PM PDT by Spirited
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Teaching reading is not rocket science. Parents who care about their children's education should teach their own children to read using a good phonics system, which is what I did with my six children.

I take issue with this paragraph in the article. I learned to read by memorizing the words. I have an excellent memory and have to visualize the words in order to spell them correctly.

All three of my kids learned to read early -- my youngest was reading 6th grade books in kindergarten! -- and I taught them by reading aloud to them. They learned to read by sight, and even today they rarely come across a word they can't pronounce.

IMO, phonics is NOT the only way to learn to read.

26 posted on 09/29/2003 2:22:06 AM PDT by IrishRainy
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To: ntnychik
Brownsville Elementary school in Bremerton, Washington area.
While in the US Navy I was the command's coordinator for the PECE (Personnel Excellence thru Cooperative Education) program. I personally assisted with the principle and teachers for an eight year period and the teachers themselves informed me of the administrator/teacher ratio mismatch.
27 posted on 09/29/2003 3:21:29 AM PDT by Tarl ("Men killing men, feeling no pain...the world is a gutter - ENUFF Z'NUFF")
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To: TheBattman
In my earlier post, I mentioned finger pointing could go in all directions. There has been a sense throughout the fabric of our current society that personal responsibility is no longer expected of its citizens or it's youth, not to mention the undermining of authority at home and in the school. Much of this pervasive "brainwashing" is delivered via various media sources: television, video games, pop music, etc.
28 posted on 09/29/2003 3:38:50 AM PDT by Tarl ("Men killing men, feeling no pain...the world is a gutter - ENUFF Z'NUFF")
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
The education system in the USA is a failure and it is all because the teachers are not held accountable, politicians look more to the 'teachers union' for them casting votes for them instead of teaching our children. It is a a tragic situation and it is not going to get any better.
29 posted on 09/29/2003 3:54:09 AM PDT by gulfcoast6 (My God is 100 proof.)
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To: Amelia
Every child should be able to read before being promoted out of first grade, barring dyslexia or other disability.

Agreed, but Bush's proposal to have every child reading by the end of the 3rd grade is already a quantum leap over current school capabilities.

My middle daughter was struggling to read in school, even with the wonderful, carng (and Christian) teacher she had in 1st & 2nd grade. We started homeschooling her in 3rd grade (last year) using a phonics-based curriculum, and now she is a voracious reader - at or above the 4th grade level (her current grade).

It's criminal how the NEA sh!t-fer-brains refuse to teach reading using phonics.

30 posted on 09/29/2003 5:02:14 AM PDT by MortMan
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To: Tarl
Attack the NEA, no small feat, since they are the nation's LARGEST organized lobbying organization.
I admit that the NEA is big, but I submit that there is a more influential lobbying organization by far. An Establishment of unparalleled influence--"the press."

"The press" belongs in quotes not because it does not have First Amendment protection (though some of it patently does not) nor because "the press" (by which is meant nothing other than journalism) is not the only printing business protected by the First Amendment. "The press" belongs in quotes because it is not supposed to be--but in a very real sense is--a single entity like the NBA.

The NBA consists of competitive divisions such as the Lakers, Spurs, and so forth. But in regulating that competition by such means as giving each division the exclusive right to place certain players on its roster, the NBA acts as a single competition-limiting entity. It does that openly and publicly, and has lost antitrust suits over that behavior.

Like any illicit entity, "the press" denies its own existence as an entity; examples of this are nauseatingly routine whenever a journalist submits to Q&A. But any establishment coheres around a "turf," and must "send a message" when its turf is violated. What is "the turf" of "the press?"

Victory in any debate makes and the winner's side seems moderate, fair, objective, and balanced--and makes the loser's position seem "extreme". The turf of "the press" is the appearance of objectivity. Actual objectivity is of course impossible--topic selection is a fingerprint of the ineluctable perspective of the writer--but "the press" manipulates the appearance by use of the excuse of the fog of breaking news.

"The press" coheres in the following code:

The objectivity of anyone who adheres to the party line that journalists are objective is never challenged by any other member of "the press".

If a Bernard Goldberg does write a Bias, he does not cease being a journalist--he is an unperson who "never was a journalist."

The PR sythesis of the appearance of objectivity by "the press" is so pervasive and so effective that it is actually possible, even easy, to use that imposture in the"liberal arts academic fields. History , for example--precisely the field which should filter appearances out and, at the price of the wait, reveal truth which current events conceal--can be guilty of producing only a second draft of journalism. Some "truths" of journalism persist by the citation of journalistic reports alone, without serious scholarship in primary source material. See for example, the many fatuous "proofs" of the "McCarthyism" canard.

31 posted on 09/29/2003 6:43:42 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The everyday blessings of God are great--they just don't make "good copy.")
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To: Tarl
the teachers themselves informed me of the administrator/teacher ratio mismatch.

Brownsville Elementary School in Bremerton, WA has 460 students and one principal. All 15 elementary schools in the Central Kitsap School District have one principal apiece. The middle and high schools have principals and assistant principals. The district has the normal administrative positions for a district of its size of 13,156 students. There are 880 certified employees (teachers) and about as many classified employees. 71.24 % of the annual budget is allocated to the classrooms. The % of budget allocated to administration is one of the lowest in the state, according to the district website. Class size ranges from 19 to 28 students per class depending on the grade. Teachers consider this to be fairly high; maybe that's why they're complaining. Caution against using admittedly left-leaning teacher union employees as unbiased sources. I'm not trying to bust your chops. I've been both a teacher and a school district administrator. If you have further questions, I'd be happy to help out.

32 posted on 09/29/2003 9:59:17 AM PDT by ntnychik
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To: Amelia
It's an interesting thread, though I'm late to the party.

It seems to me that these problems - flunking exit tests - should have been caught and addressed long before these kids ever made it to high school.

33 posted on 10/04/2003 8:46:03 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford ( No. ĄDeje un SOBORNO para el camarero!)
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To: ATOMIC_PUNK
Any American child who can't read by the age of 7 is lazy or blind, or culturally corrupted beyond average Americans' comprehension. Parents are culpable for their lazy children, bastards or not.

Hundreds of millions of 3rd world children practice reading by moon light, street light, or fire light.

Is reading and writing too white?

Would these illiterate kids learn the Koran? In or out of prison?

They deserve their future and the doom if they learn to prey upon productive Americans.
34 posted on 10/04/2003 9:00:25 AM PDT by SevenDaysInMay (Federal judges and justices serve for periods of good behavior, not life. Article III sec. 1)
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To: Amelia
Especially bright/sarcasm.

Think about it. When did the public schools really start to go downhill?

Parents of today's students went to school during the 70's and 80's.

I went to public school.
35 posted on 10/04/2003 10:39:16 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: Cathryn Crawford
It seems to me that these problems - flunking exit tests - should have been caught and addressed long before these kids ever made it to high school.

Exactly.

36 posted on 10/04/2003 6:58:09 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Amelia
Exactly.

Well, I'm relieved that we agree. LOL.

37 posted on 10/04/2003 6:59:06 PM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Usted tiene bastante cambio en usted.)
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To: ladylib
I do think that the public schools started going downhill as the baby boomers took charge of them.

Perhaps you'd also agree with my post here?

38 posted on 10/04/2003 7:08:45 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: OldFriend
Parents can demand excellence from their schools all they want, but they'll get nowhere if they are constantly stonewalled by those schools. Below is a student website run by students who are pretty savy about what is going on in their district:

http://www.fortbendisdsucks.com/

The Fort Bend School District in Texas is being audited by educationnews.org.

Maybe this action will spread to other public school districts all across the country.
39 posted on 10/07/2003 4:44:46 PM PDT by ladylib
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