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In our schools, it could be worse - way worse

August 19, 2008 - Per Peterson
“The first look at how Minnesota children are adapting to tougher state science standards isn’t pretty.” That’s the lead paragraph of a recent Associated Press story dealing with science exams taken by more than 180,000 students in Minnesota. The story goes on to say that fewer than 40 percent of fifth-graders and eighth-graders met or exceeded scoring benchmarks for their age and just shy of 43 percent of high schoolers did. The standards are higher and the scores are lower. We've heard this before. But if you think we got it bad in Minnesota, check this nugget out: An AP story released Tuesday said that Jefferson Senior High School in Los Angeles has a 58-percent dropout rate, the worst in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest. ‘‘It’s horrendous,’’ Debra Duardo, director of the dropout prevention and recovery program at the district, which averages 33.6 percent dropouts, told the AP. The school is located in South L.A., where new immigrants mostly from Mexico and Central America settle. Racial divisions peaked three years ago when blacks and Latinos clashed, and a quarter-century ago, Latino students totaled 31 percent of the student body; now they account for almost 90 percent. Blacks comprise about 10 percent and a sliver are Asian or white, the AP said. And gang problems in the school force teachers to worry more about students causing trouble and less about the students who actually want to learn, if indeed there are any. The school is drowning in a sea of failure full of sharks with guns and knives, and you have to feel for any student who desires to learn there. So let’s put everything into perspective. Yes, our kids are behind in science, and there should be cause for concern, but having kids who struggle with the difference between chioroplast and cytoplasm pales in comparison to living with the fear of having your kid get shot on his or her way home from a school with more dropouts than graduates.


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