America’s schools are failing. My last post made that clear with the latest Education Department data showing the test results for the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress – also known as the Nation’s Report Card.
These results show the nation’s schools recorded the largest drop in math scores ever this year, with fourth-and eighth grade students in nearly every state showing significant declines.
The pandemic will be used as an excuse by most in the education bureaucracy, but the issues go much deeper. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has had a life-long commitment to improving schools. He established some of the first school choice initiatives in the nation in his state while he was governor. Now he weighs in on the disastrous recent test results in an Op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
“Since March 2020 we’ve seen the largest learning loss in modern history. This catastrophe wasn’t inevitable. But what began as school closings in response to Covid morphed into an intentional effort by teachers unions to block the schoolhouse door,” said Bush.
What are the solutions?
Bush says, “The solutions are simple. There are math and reading policies every state should immediately enact and there are ways parents can contribute. Start with a call to all parents, guardians and families – those who know their children best. You were called on to step up when Covid kept kids at home. Now you are needed again to help close those learning gaps. Any trusted adult in a child’s life – parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, whoever – should lean into this moment. Help students recover lost learning by reading for 20 minutes a day. . . In addition, research has found that 30 minutes a week of extra math work can help students who are struggling or behind. If you aren’t up to writing math equations for your kids, seek out free, high-quality online math tools.”
He also goes on to call out lawmakers to step up, by eliminating barriers students face in accessing a better education. He cites Arizona, which has become a national model by creating a universal education savings account program with flexible, portable and customizable funding. This allows parents to make the best education choice for their children regardless of the expense.
Furthermore, he criticizes education practices that have failed. “Teaching models that include the “3-cueing” approach, which asks students to look at pictures and guess instead of sounding out words, should be scrapped. It’s a failed approach. Every state should require that students be screened in reading three times a year in grades K-3 and offer assistance to those struggling to learn to read. These critical years are too often ignored until it’s too late to catch up.”
“The same is true for math instruction. States should ensure that students have access to trained, effective math teachers. That may mean not all elementary teachers should teach math; only those who specialize in it. Students graduating from high school should have mastered at least Algebra I. . . Students who are behind need personalized math support, including tutoring two to three times a week.”
For those who want to dig deeper into this issue, I highly recommend a new book by former Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos called Hostages No More. It is clear that our public education system is failing our children and our country. The main problem is poor schools and poor teachers who are protected by the teachers unions. The solution is allowing taxpayers’ money to follow the students, not the schools. This gives parents the freedom to choose the best education for the specific needs of their children. That’s the meaning of the term “school choice.” It is an issue that parents of all political persuasions should embrace – because the future of their children is at stake!