“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
– Mark Twain, after learning his obituary had been mistakenly published in the New York Journal
Public schools are turning out stronger students today than ever before.
Testing scores for all ethnicities across the country have never been higher than they are today. Graduation rates across the country for all groups, whether white, black, Hispanic or Asian have also never been higher.
The fact is, despite the cry to send kids to charter schools, private schools, home schools and everywhere else, public schools are not failing. The American public education system is a tremendous success.
The only area where test scores remain low and graduation rates are not improving is for children living in poverty. That reality can be seen here in Wise County. It’s no coincidence that Boyd ISD has the highest percentage of low income students and also has some of the lowest test scores as well.
It’s ironic, considering Boyd is considered a “property rich” district due to its minerals, but at the same time qualifies for a free summer lunch program due to the high rate of students living in poverty.
And while there appears to be no way to eradicate poverty, there are ways to better serve low-income students. Boyd has done that by creating an all-day, pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds in their district this year. Chico is also implementing a universal pre-K program.
Another area of concern is students who are having to learn English as a second language. But once again, a school district in Wise County is taking progressive measures to deal with the problem.
Bridgeport ISD started a long-term, dual-language program this year in their elementary school. It requires a lot of commitment by the children and the parents. For the next five years, participating students will be immersed in the program until they have mastered both languages in all aspects, including reading, writing, speaking and academic uses.
We’ve had politicians wanting to throw public schools under the cheese wagon and give tax dollars to for-profit, private schools. We’ve had hordes of angry parents blaming things like CSCOPE and the new common standards, looking everywhere for a secret communist agenda. Not even Nostradamus could have imagined the Red Scare that would reappear in Texas schools in the year 2013.
But rather than give up on their students or themselves, local school districts, their teachers and administrators are finding new ways to reach all their students and improve their learning experience and success. Rather than blaming invisible enemies or giving up entirely, parents just need to get more involved and help these districts educate their children in a world that grows more complex every day.
Just when it seemed public schools were losing the fight versus the privatization movement and anti-intellectualism, local districts are proving the best way to educate our children is collectively – and under the public eye.
Brandon Evans is a reporter for the Wise County Messenger.