Still Better than Tunisia!

Test results mixed for students in US: Americans are behind other developed nations,” by Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe,, 15 December 2004 (from Google News)

Gov. Bush, voucher supporters appeal ruling to state high court,” by the Associated Press, The Maimi Herald,, 14 December 2004.

Public schools: still terrible.

American eighth-graders improved their math and science scores on an international test last year, but fourth-graders’ scores were flat and all students lagged behind other industrialized nations, Boston College researchers said yesterday.

US pupils scored above the international average on the tests, given to students in dozens of wealthy and poor nations every four years. But the grades overall were mediocre for a prosperous nation that devotes billions of dollars to education, test officials said.

“The United States really is an underachiever, given our economy, our educational level, the resources that we put into education,” said Ina V. S. Mullis, codirector of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and an education professor at Boston College, which runs the study.

But hey, at least it is not endemic

At a news conference yesterday at Boston College, test officials attributed the mediocre performance of American students to teachers who don’t specialize in math and science; a curriculum that tries to cover too many topics, preventing students from mastering any in depth; and a society that may not recognize the importance of math and science in economic growth.

American students were less likely than their peers in other industrialized nations to have a math teacher who majored in math or a science teacher who studied one of the hard sciences, such as biology or physics.

For instance, 81 percent of eighth-graders in Japan had a teacher who majored in math in college, and they scored a 570 out of 1,000. By contrast, 48 percent of US eighth-graders had teachers with math majors, and they averaged a score of 504.

But thank God we have school choice, so parents are forced to send children to these academic hells

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday it had received the appeal notices late Monday. Because the issue is the status of a state law that has been found unconstitutional by a lower court, the court is required to take the case.

The state has been allowed to issue vouchers since the first ruling, nearly five years ago, that the law was unconstitutional.

Last month, the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with a trial judge who said the 1999 law violates the state constitution because it lets tax dollars be spent on religious schools.

Well, I’m sure that the crazies were making kids convert…

Under the law, voucher students can be taught about religion but cannot be made to pray, worship or profess a religious belief.

Of course, advocates for the most vulnerable — the children themselves — plus representatives of groups that support school choice — like racial minorities — stood by school choice…

Opponents, including the state’s teacher union, the Florida PTA, the Florida League of Women Voters and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, challenged the law in court the day after Bush signed it.

But… we’re still better than Tunisia!

US scores trailed many industrialized countries, especially those in Asia. Students in Singapore topped all nations in both subjects.

Tunisia and South Africa scored among the lowest.

Public schools: still terrible.

One thought on “Still Better than Tunisia!”

  1. First of all we need to take the statistics you mentioned into account. We don't pay teachers enough to get people who major in these subjects to teach them. They can make more money elsewhere.

    We don't specialize enough, but vouchers won't solve this. All vouchers do is shift the problem. If you give some kids vouchers you're just letting the others suffer. If you give all kids vouchers nothing changes because the poor can only afford those schools where the voucher pays for the entire tuition.

    Our educational system does struggle, but as rosy a picture as is painted by vouchers, they just don't make sense unless your only concern is making money off of a necessary thing for a society like education.

  2. Vouches are part of the solution, but you are right that they are not the entire solution.

    The basic problem is systemic — our public education system is socialist. What other large enterprise in the US is similarly protected from so much competition? Only 1st class letter delivery, it seems, and even there the widespread availability of faxes, emails, and even telephones gives the US Postal Service a run for its money.

    As long as we want an education system that essentially warehouses students, slowly degrading their mental abilities to make them more willing workers for 19th century-style factories, that's exactly what we are going to get.

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