Good news on the education front . . . except in Utah

Earlier this summer I linked to a “good news” report from Fordham Institute executive — and Stanford education researcher – Michael Petrilli. Here’s his follow-up, with more good news . . . for some states, but definitely not for Utah.

“A few weeks ago, I wrote about our schools’ “secret success.” Simply stated, poor and minority students are achieving at dramatically higher levels today than they were two decades ago–in some cases two or three grade levels higher. And while we can’t be sure what led to this academic acceleration, test-based accountability was probably the most important factor. Or so I argued.”

He continues: “But the plot thickens, because these national averages mask state-by-state differences that are quite instructive, too. See, for example, this chart from Matt Ladner, a longtime Goldwater Institute education analyst who now works for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. It examines NAEP gains over a shorter six-year period–2003 to 2009–for kids eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.”

You call follow the link to see the chart, but I’ll give you the bottom line. Utah ranks second to last, beating out only West Virginia. The National Association of Education Progress test scores for poor children (as identified as those eligible for free or reduced fee lunches) rose 47% in Florida, 44% in Maryland, . . . and 1.7% in Utah.

I’ve said this before, and sparked no little ire. But – I fear that some of Utah’s passionate opposition to the No Child Left Behind law reflects a reluctance to confront just how poorly this state serves its neediest kids. Yesterday I expressed some dismay at the complacency of affluent parents, whose kids usually attend good neighborhood schools. Are Utahns too complacent as well? The neighbors’ kids DO matter. But — to repeat a rather famous rhetorical question — who is my neighbor?

Here’s the link!

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