Why Education Now? Just One Example

Presidential candidates have a laundry list of issues they can focus on – and in doing so get the rest of us to pay some attention to as well.

Let me tell you a quick story that I think illustrates why the candidates should make our schools the top issues of their campaigns.

About six weeks ago the California State University system released figures on the number of incoming freshmen who failed placement tests in math and English. These high school graduates …and that’s important, these kids graduated from high school. They were not the dropouts that we all worry so much about.

These high school graduates had to take remedial courses in math and English to learn skills they should have learned in high school.

So what’s your guess about how many of these new college students had to essentially take high school classes all over again? Five percent? Ten percent? We would be lucky if the number was so low.

Between one-third and one-half of incoming freshmen at Cal State’s 23 campuses failed the placement tests and had to take remedial courses.

The families of those students had to pay for those courses, but their students did not earn a single credit toward their college degree for that remedial work. Taxpayers did, too. Cal State is publicly funded, and the public foots some of the bill for those remedial courses.

Think about that: The public is paying twice to teach these basic math and English skills -- once in high school and once in college. Would taxpayers and their elected officials pay twice to pave a road? I don’t think so.

I’m not trying to beat up on California. They just happened to release the data recently. This is happening all across America.

Remember – these young people graduated from our public schools. They are the success stories. They got into college. But they weren’t ready. Our schools have to get our students ready for college, for work and for life. They are not doing that.

That’s just one reason why I think the presidential candidates should make education their number one issue.

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Thank you for reading.


Posted by Roy Romer at 05/02/2007 11:21:27 AM | 

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