WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – All across the United States, from California to Connecticut, from Nebraska to New Orleans, headlines reflect a national public education system in ruin: “Deplorable conditions.” “Disastrous.” “Poor performance.” “Teachers in trouble.” “Parents ignored.” “Wait and see,” are typical.
Most school children are still being left behind. There is very little to suggest the system is meeting any of the needs of the people. The “Report Card” is failing.
“The American educational system is in crisis. The level of illiteracy, the dropout rate, test scores, plans to attend college are all direct signs that the current school system has failed,” according to the “National Agenda of the Million Family March.”
The condition may be far worse.
“The plague of Allah (God) against the educational system of America is something that the philosophers and scientists should look into,” writes The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in “The Fall of America,” “as the destruction of America’s education is the destruction of their wisdom to educate the people.”
A generation ago, much back-to-school attention was focused on the still-violent resistance by Whites to efforts to desegregate the public schools, even in northern, urban centers.
Today, desegregation efforts are far less prominent. As much attention is now paid to the impact of back-to-school purchases on local economies as is paid to racial segregation. Tax-free back-to-school shopping days to encourage local shopping are commonplace.
In Washington, D.C. and neighboring Prince Georges County, Md., where the greatest concentration of highly educated Blacks reside, and where most schools perform below the sinking national averages, there were teacher shortages and many classrooms were without textbooks and supplies on opening day.
“Student achievement over the years has improved at a snail’s pace–if at all–and meanwhile, public education expenses have increased at lightning speed,” complained the Education Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council.“The data clearly illustrates that simply increasing education funding does not equate academic success.In order for our nation’s public education system to improve, the education debate must start and end with student performance, not a dollar sign.”
But there is evidence this year that adequate funding can make a difference in student performance.
In California, teaching and learning conditions in the state’s lowest-performing schools have improved three years after the settlement of a class-action suit brought on behalf of poor students, according to a recent study.
The report is a comprehensive assessment of the impact of Williams vs. California, a suit, which resulted in a package of laws requiring county superintendents to visit the lowest-achieving schools to monitor the availability of textbooks and the physical condition of buildings. The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and Public Advocates, which prepared the report, found progress in all areas. However, some counties and individual districts, such as Los Angeles still fell behind statewide averages.
But in Ohio the downgraded educational rating received by the Toledo Public Schools prompted calls from one board of education member for “radical changes.” There, after three consecutive years as a “continuous improvement” district, Toledo Public schools were placed in “academic watch”–the equivalent of a “D” grade in Ohio’s five-tier rating system.
“The American people actually have come to the point where they hate their own educational system,” Mr. Muhammad writes in “The Fall of America.” “This means that they are now hating and destroying their civilization because it is education that civilizes people,” said Mr. Muhammad.
Federal government policies have had little or no positive affect. Since the enactment of the “No Child Left Behind” law, test-score improvement among 4th graders in 12 states has fallen off in reading and slowed in math, according to a new study.
The report cites National Assessment of Educational Progress scores reflecting a virtual halt to progress in closing racial achievement gaps in reading since the federal law was signed in 2002. The research, which draws on data from both state tests and federally administered tests, fuels the debate over the controversial law as Congress prepares to take up its reauthorization.
“Over the past four years, ‘No Child’ proponents have made very strong claims that this reform is raising student achievement,” said lead author Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the director of the Policy Analysis for California Education research center based at Berkeley and Stanford University. “In fact, after No Child Left Behind, earlier progress made by the states actually petered out,” Dr. Fuller said.
“If America does not wake up and recognize the consequences of perpetuating the current system of education, then the country’s fate is sealed,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan wrote in “A Torchlight for America.” “If America is unwilling to destroy the old system of education in order to create a new system of education, then America’s status as a world power will quickly fade away in a generation or so.”
And then there is the “achievement gap,” which plagues Black students especially.
It affects all disciplines. In a report summarizing the results of an economics assessment completed by 11,500 high school seniors, fewer than half (42 percent) of students scored at the “proficient” level when queried about market economics (including personal finance), national economics, and international economics.
In addition, Black, Latino, and students in large urban settings scored lower than other student populations. The economics assessment, entitled “The Nation’s Report Card,” is one of a series of National Assessments of Educational Progress (NAEP) conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.
“…we’re primarily talking about Latino and African American students,” new San Francisco Superintendent Carlos Garcia said in a published interview. “It’s not a question of whether different ethnicities can learn –they can learn. The problem is, we’re not teaching things in the way in which they are able to learn. There are programs across the country–and we have shown examples on effective ways of bridging the achievement gap. Do we have all the resources to do it? Absolutely not! But we have to have the will to do it before we get the resources. Right now, we’re working on getting people to have that will.”
That “will” is reflected in the commitment of Minister Farrakhan to establish an excellent educational system based upon the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. “It’s not one’s maleness or femaleness, being Black or being White, rather it is our growth and reflection of knowledge that distinguishes us from the lower forms of life.
“The problem in today’s education is that the root motivation is the acquisition of wealth and material things rather than the cultivation of the human spirit. Education is supposed to be the proper cultivation of the gifts and talents of the individual through the acquisition of knowledge,” according to Min. Farrakhan in “A Torchlight for America.”
At the Millions More Movement Rally on October 15, 2005 in Washington, D.C. Min. Farrakhan proposed the creation of Ministries of Service to serve the needs of the people. One such Ministry is the Ministry of Education whose goal is to establish a new kind of educational model and thinking to achieve the true goal of education for the human being. On August 25th Min. Farrakhan hosted an educational conference at the Salaam Conference Center in Chicago to begin the process of developing a new educational paradigm.