Why The Alarming Deterioration In K–12 Education May Be A Major Issue In 2024?

Why The Alarming Deterioration In K–12 Education May Be A Major Issue In 2024 | Future Education Magazine


When the school year finished, parents used to be concerned about “summer learning loss.” Nowadays, there is less to fear in terms of learning. The “A Nation at Risk” report by a high-profile commission, which was released 40 years ago, lamented the “rising tide of mediocrity” in K–12 education and stated that “had a hostile foreign power attempted to impose the mediocre educational performance that exists today on America, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” After two generations, mediocrity might be a goal.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as “the nation’s report card,” a drop that began in 2014 (don’t blame the pandemic) is still there in 2022: Lessons learned during the 1990s were undone as only 13 percent and 20 percent of eighth-graders fulfilled competence levels in American history and civics, respectively.

In reading and math, only 33% and 36% of fourth-graders were proficient, respectively. The situation was worse for eighth graders: only 31% of them were proficient in reading, and 26% in maths. Less proficiency after four additional years of K–12 education. Perhaps the summer could be viewed as a season for recovering from the learning losses caused by schools.

In no year since the “nation’s report card” was first published in 1992, according to charter school supporter Ian Rowe, “has a majority of white pupils been reading at grade level. The cruel reality is that eliminating the achievement gap between black and white children would simply ensure academic mediocrity for all pupils.

Strangely (or perhaps not), but improving marks were seen on California’s most recent standardised test, despite reductions in math and English language arts. According to Larry Sand’s article in City Journal, only 19% of 11th-graders tested at grade level, despite the fact that 73 percent of them achieved As, Bs or Cs in maths. The difference was 79 percent and 23 percent for eighth graders. The results for English in the sixth grade were 85% and 40%. Interestingly, or perhaps not, as student proficiency has decreased, the high school graduation rate has increased.

Grade inflation, often known as “equity grading,” and “social promotions,” which oppose meritocracy as a byproduct of white supremacy, create a trail of devastation. “California currently holds the nation’s top spot for illiteracy, according to World Population Review, claims Sand. In fact, 23.1% of Californians over 15 years old are unable to read this text.

What students are being taught is just as worrisome as what they are not learning. In their article for National Affairs (summer 2022), Robert Pondiscio and Tracey Schirra of the American Enterprise Institute state that “public education has drifted towards an oppositional relationship with its founding purpose of forming citizens, facilitating social cohesion, and transmitting our culture from one generation to the next.” As a result, parental rights regarding educational content and curriculum transparency are starting to gain political traction and may become a major political issue in 2024.

What the U.S. Public Thinks of K–12 Education

According to Pondiscio and Schirra, remote learning during the epidemic “pried open the black box of America’s classrooms.” Progressives, eager to close the door once again, characterise all public participation in public K–12 education, other than paying for it, as an infringement of teachers’ previously unstated claim to unrestricted sovereignty over the children of other people. However, as Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, has noted, “Someone’s got to decide what is going to be taught in K-12 education schools.” The First Amendment does not specify who is exempt, including school boards, legislators, or teachers.

Parents are surrounded by progressives and their strongest allies, the teachers unions, who are shouting at them, “Mind your own business!” Conservatives can use this as a political argument to support their positions on the well-liked topics of charter schools and school choice. As the Republican-led legislature in North Carolina has noted.

Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of that state, is following in the footsteps of the federal government, which is presently managing 41 declared “emergencies.” And by making such announcements, presidents of both parties obtain exceptional powers, so he is imitating the executive grandeur they radiate. Cooper proclaimed a “state of emergency for public education.”

The state legislature’s decision to extend the state’s school choice programme beyond low-income families sparked his crisis of conscience, which did not significantly increase his influence. Increasing parents’ options for selecting between public and private schools, according to him, will “choke the life out of public K–12 education.” We may deduce Cooper’s pessimistic evaluation of the failure of many public schools to compete when parents have options from this prediction. Today, there is certainly less trust in public education than at any other time in American history. Conservative lawmakers ought to look for another line of work if they can’t make this a prominent issue.

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