VOXXI News: State Policy Report Card: Is America failing its students?

January 25, 2013


State Policy Report Card: Is America failing its students?

Posted on January 25, 2013 By John Benson Education

Failing grades are what two-thirds of the nation received in the recently released State Policy Report Card.

The scathing report is the first of its kind from StudentsFirst, which is a bipartisan, grassroots organization focused around three pillars – empowering parents, fiscal responsibility and teacher empowerment. In fact, those pillars act as the criteria of State Policy Report Card.
policy State Policy Report Card: Is America failing its students?

The State Policy Report Card was created by StudentsFirst to evaluate how each state’s policies and laws are serving students and teachers.

The Report Card was created by StudentsFirst to review and evaluate how each state’s policies and laws regarding education are serving students and teachers. It does not factor in academic achievement, school quality or how teachers are performing. Instead, it focuses on the policies and laws that modulate these outcomes.

Is it then surprising that not one state in the nation passed with an A?

“I wasn’t shocked by it,” StudentsFirst Vice President of National Policy Eric Lerum told VOXXI. “I had the opportunity to look at a lot of different state statutes and state codes. It’s amazing how similar they look. There was a very clear effort by somebody to go around and make a lot of these laws look the same. So it didn’t shock us at all that most states were in this situation. If we had done this five years ago, I think almost every state would have gotten an F, but a lot of those states were given Ds and the reason they’re inching up is they’re making slow changes.”
State Policy Report Card: Mixed results for ‘Latino states’

Offering perspective from the Latino education slant, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Director of Education Policy Luis Torres told VOXXI the State Policy Report Card is one of various different reports the community-based organization reviews.
fail grade 410x261 State Policy Report Card: Is America failing its students?

Failing grades are what two-thirds of the nation received in the recently released State Policy Report Card. (Shutterstock photos)

“The most striking part of it is obviously no one received an A,” Torres said. “In particular, we’re also concerned that a lot of the states that received either Ds or Fs are states that have large Latino populations. That’s a big issue. It’s one of several but it points out the issues that LULAC has been working on for the past several years.”

The StudentsFirst State Policy Report Card reveals mixed results for Latino-friendly states: Florida (B-), Arizona (C-), Colorado (C-), New Mexico (D), Texas (D), Nevada (D) and New York (D). One of the biggest disappointments was California, which received an F.

“Today’s findings reflect a school system that continues to operate in the same way, doing the same thing and expecting different results,” said California Senator Ricardo Lara, chairman of the Legislative Latino Caucus. “As evident by data, we can do better, our kids and families deserve better. Our students can and will achieve, but it can’t happen unless we bring all stakeholders to the table and have an honest dialogue. We have the power to change things for the better, but it requires courage to use it.”
The impetus behind the State Policy Report Card was to not only generate awareness around the need for policy change but to offer a roadmap to change. StudentsFirst, which boasts roughly 2 million members nationwide, has helped pass more than 110 student centered policies in 17 states.
 “For us, the idea is that you need to empower parents with information, you need to give them access to really easy to understand information and not some technical report,” Lerum said. “You need a report card for schools. That’s something parents understand.”
Even though State Policy Report Card eschews any student outcome data, Torres didn’t see that as an issue. Instead, he sees only positive results from more organizations such as LULAC and StudentsFirst calling attention to the education issue in Latino communities.
“Public officials look at this, advocacy experts look at this, parents and educators look at this and they see it as a form of rubric that we have to try to achieve success in,” Torres said. “The next step after we have people’s attention is to provide recommendations and actionable steps that the government can take, and state partners working on these issues can take, to remedy these problems.”
Torres added that while the graduation rate for American students is improving, such rate for minority students is around 70 percent compared to 83 percent of non-Hispanic white students. He said having a State Policy Report Card allows education advocacy folks to target what he calls “dropout factories.”
“Just 12 percent of all high schools produce 50 percent of all the dropouts in the country, and 75 percent of the students in those schools are students of color,” Torres said. “That’s a significant area that we need to look at.”
Striking while the fire is hot is what StudentFirst is hoping the State Policy Report Card does for the national conversation about education that is currently taking place.
“We are seeing a dialogue at the state level, we had a huge number of stories around it, but for us if we just got a media bump out of it, it wouldn’t be enough” Lerum said. “We want to see state policymakers enacting policies, community members asking for change. We’re hoping this helps that conversation.”

Read more: http://www.voxxi.com/state-policy-report-card-america-failing/#ixzz2J0cpswga