Jobs, Crime and Schools: Tie the Most Depressing Stories Together and Find Hope

Categories: Schutze

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The pressure to spit out news stories as fast as they happen, a disinclination to provide linkages that might look too subjective, a simple failure in our own ability to see: for whatever reason, we in the news business seldom show you how the stories we present to you are tied together. And yet, because we're out there looking at them with our own eyeballs, I think we feel the connections in our guts.

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Today's Dallas Morning News offers a really well-done and thought-provoking story by Selwyn Crawford about African-Americans and domestic violence. It's a tough story to tackle for the danger of stumbling on bad preconceptions and assumptions.

Crawford provides a key perspective by reporting that domestic violence has a strong link to male unemployment. He quotes an expert who says, "Unemployed white men were as likely to kill their partners as unemployed black men, but because the black unemployment rate is higher, we see more deaths of black women."

As I read those words, my own gut-link was to reporting I did last winter on people in southern Dallas, most of them black and male, who are counted statistically in a category officially termed "not in the labor force." That is, they're not working now, not working before, not likely to find work any time soon. Not in the labor force is different from unemployment, a term to describe people who have lost a recently held job. My handlers here at the Observer thought it would be interesting to send a crabby old white man around South Dallas for several weeks to ask apparently idle young black men on the street why they didn't go get a job.

It was. Interesting as hell. Many of the men I interviewed turned out to be working their asses off, but at jobs like washing cars or scavenging scrap that didn't involve background checks. Many of them were just standing around in the middle of the day drinking 40s, watching the cars go by.

You'll have to take my word for this, I guess: Many of those stand-around guys were bright, funny, sardonically insightful about the world around them, fun to talk to, with a lot of tough, street-bred survival in them. If anything, you sensed a great competence in them, at least as potential. They should not be standing around in the day drinking 40s. They should be teachers, lawyers, writers, entrepreneurs.

Instead they are standing around. Many of them are dependent on the women in their lives -- mothers, girlfriends, wives who had jobs. Whenever we got to that point in a conversation, without fail, there was a catch in the voice and an evasive turning away of the eye. I had a job. They didn't. We all knew as men what that meant.

Another story you've seen from me and hopefully from plenty of other reporters in the last year is the Children's Defense Fund "Cradle to Prison Pipeline" report: One in three black boys and one in six Latino boys born in the United States in 2001 probably will wind up in prison at some point, five times as many boys as girls.

"This is America's pipeline to prison -- a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment and often premature death," the CDF reports. "Although the majority of fourth graders cannot read at grade level, states spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil.

Once a kid drops out of school and gets himself into the criminal justice system, the chances for a normal productive life plummet. A big reason is what I found in talking to guys on the street: If you dropped out of school in the first place because you were a lousy student who couldn't read or write competently and then you earned yourself a criminal record, nobody is going to hire you for a good job, ever. Meanwhile study after study has shown that if you are black, the criminal justice system is going to treat you much more harshly than a white person who commits the same offense. Maybe you're not toast when you get that first prison sentence, but you're pretty damn close.

And that brings us to the third story in the news a lot over the last year here in Dallas -- public school reform. In a recent op-ed piece in the News, Dallas school system trustee Mike Morath reported on gains achieved during the first year of an intensive and often bitterly controversial system-wide reform effort under Superintendent Mike Miles:

Dallas ISD students outpaced statewide gains in 10 of the 14 subjects tested in the crucial elementary and middle school grades, where so many of life's foundations are laid. Of particular note, DISD students gained 8.3 percent over their peers in eighth-grade mathematics, and DISD was one of only two districts in Dallas County to show any gains in third-grade reading.

Historically, achievement gains have come slower for students of color than their white peers. With respect to SAT and ACT scores, Dallas ISD's students of color underperformed their white peers by 34 percent the year before Miles arrived in Dallas, much worse than the 23 percent spread a decade ago. In Miles' first year, the achievement gap shrank by 2.5 percent.

If a kid can read and write competently at the end of the third grade, everything turns around for him in the balance of his school career. Now he knows what the teachers are talking about. Third grade is the key, because kids learn to read from kindergarten through third grade, and from then on they have to read to learn. If they are not at grade level at the beginning of fourth grade, the statistics are grim. It's very tough for them ever to catch up. But if they can read, then school is no longer merely a children's prison. It might even be interesting.

Of course it's wrong and unfair to blame the school system for the social ills of the entire society or the personal tragedy of any given kid. Yes, people have bootstraps, and yes, it would be great if parents and families could do a better job. This isn't about blaming the schools, exactly. This is to say that full grade-level competence at reading, writing and arithmetic at the end of third grade is this golden connection between the stories, a magical key to unlock all of the interlocking headlines.

Even bringing this up guarantees that the comments section below will be visited today by ignorant and evil-minded racist people. But, look: We cannot allow those people to scare the rest of us away from the topic. This is way too important. This is a chance to achieve something really huge for our society and the future of our nation. Let's agree that those commenters are just kind of a cost of doing business.

Meanwhile, the linkages are everything -- way more important than the stories themselves -- because they offer that most powerful of human sentiments. Hope.



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54 comments
americanvalues
americanvalues

3 times as much on prisoner than on pupil...because the pigs make more money in prisons then in schools....somebody just find a way to monetize turning out good college ready adults, then you'd see some change.

ericrapesbabies
ericrapesbabies

Jim Schutze and Eric Nicholson rape babies to death and then eat them! They've never denied it!

Haw haw this "liberal humor" stuff is SO HILARIOUS!

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

For several years I worked with a non-profit that provided low-income DISD students educational opportunities and support on par with the best Dallas private schools. One day the director told me that her ultimate goal was to establish a boarding school. When I questioned her about this she replied that despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars the program spent on small class instruction, college trips, counseling and support, they didn't have a 100% success rate because after the program finished for the day they went right back into their drug-riddled dysfunctional homes. Some of the kids made it but many of them didn't despite having every possible advantage provided by this organization.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

One of the biggest reasons that kids drop out is because they see no connection between what they are learning in school and what they plan to do with the rest of their lives. The one-size-fits-all approach of standardized testing and college prep isn't working. We need to rebuild our vocational education programs and reject the lie that every child can and must attend college. These vocational programs need to be designed with student input. Every secondary school should have several vocational programs. We should stop sending kids to schools based on where they live and start sending them to schools based on their interests and career plans.

Combine that with mandatory, full-day pre-K for all students and a dramatic decrease in pre-K through 3rd grade class sizes, (I'm thinking somewhere between 12 and 15 students per class) and we might turn things around for most kids. We'll never reach all of them, but we can reach a lot more than we currently do with our one-size-fits-all approach.

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

We can't discount adding the importance of health care to the equation. There are so many variables in regards to why some children can't learn to read.

When my youngest started public school, she along with all the other kids, lined up to get their eyes tested. At that age, it was the "E" in various positions. She passed, but her teacher suggested I take her to the optometrist because she noticed something wasn't right during overhead time interaction and she tripped a lot on the playground. Not only did my child need glasses, her vision was so bad, she couldn't see 8 inches beyond her face.

I wonder how many children are being giving a pass on eye exams in public and pre-schools, when in fact, they can't see at all?  Has anyone addressed this? Poor eyesight or not having your glasses replaced when they get lost, broken or scratched would be a huge problem in learning how to read or keeping your attention, if your head hurts from eye strain.

On the other hand, one of the biggest detriments to poor communities is faith. Faith can be a beautiful thing if it works out, but the over emphasis of waiting, until God or do-gooders provide, can be paralyzing and encourage dependency.

ruddski
ruddski

Liberal management of the black community has not worked out well. Not that they didnt mean well, but the end result is a fascist, dependent community in which political choice is frowned on. If black conservatism gains hold, libs lose power - the most important consideration.

Obummer
Obummer

Yo learning chil'ns ta vote fo' libtards forever iz priority one.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 There's no time to teach kids to read by third grade, because those first four grades are also your prime indoctrination ages.  It's more important to teach socialism and to snitch on your parents in those years.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Just thinking about what motivated me when I was a kid..... I had support from my mom and stepdad but they were also raising five other kids. My earliest memories of discussing learning anything are of my grandma emphasizing what reading was all about; that being unable to read would be like being unable to understand what anyone was saying and that if you can read there is nothing that you don't at least have a shot at understanding.

It is a tough one. I don't know what could be done on a large scale to motivate kids to learn to read since now there are so many other demands on family life and time.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Ya Jim, connecting dots is beyond even many of t he so called ejamicated populace.

Tom434
Tom434

You'll have to take my word for this, I guess: Many of those stand-around guys were bright, funny, sardonically insightful about the world around them, fun to talk to, with a lot of tough, street-bred survival in them. If anything, you sensed a great competence in them, at least as potential. They should not be standing around in the day drinking 40s. They should be teachers, lawyers, writers, entrepreneurs.

But could they read and write at a 8th grade level or even at a 4th grade level

Daniel
Daniel

"Whenever we got to that point in a conversation, without fail, there was a catch in the voice and an evasive turning away of the eye. I had a job. They didn't."

I don't judge stand-around guys like so many people seem to love to do*, but you've gotta admit, Jim, this maudlin touch is a little over the top. These men aren't crippled. 

I've had eight long-term gals in my not-getting-any-shorter (or rather, it IS getting shorter) life, and not one of them would have countenanced my sitting around unemployed and drunk for more than a few months before heaving me ho.   


__________________________________________________

* Recommended reading: Tally's Corner by Elliott Lebow

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, an allegation that may lead to incarceration for Mike Miles is that he pushed kids out of school to eliminate their low scores from his testing database. I challenge you to unfound it. Here's a summary of the allegations with a link to more details.

Here is a story on the former El Paso Superintendent, Lorenzo Garcia, now in federal prison for the first year of his 42 months sentence: http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_21711101/sentence-disappoints-teachers-schemes-victims?source=pkg The manipulations Mr. Garcia orchestrated were terrible.  Investigations such as this can take years, but the probablity that Mr. Miles may join Garcia in jail are real.

About 2 months ago I reported my findings from investigating Harrison School District Two to the Department of Education in Denver. They have sent it to a division for study, but warned me that any potential investigation will take months before I'm even contacted again. To see the evidence from Colorado go to
http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2013/05/damage-by-mike-miles-in-colorado.html .

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, these numbers can be seen online in the 2013/14 DISD Planning document at https://mydata.dallasisd.org/docs/CILT2014/DP1000.pdf Look at the row for Composite scores near the bottom of the page. Notice the reductions from 2012 for African American and Hispanic students while the Anglo students only went down by 2.6%. Also notice that for the first time in history DISD failed to report scores to include the first decimal point, only giving whole numbers. Anglos had scores that went down from 23 to 24. African American and Hispanic score were unchanged from 2012. The 'other' ethnic groups, mostly Asian, must have helped raise the scores. That combined with rounding errors due to the failure to report past the decimal point, lead to problems demanding a more exact report.

Do you see the problems Jim? Mike Miles is beginning to act like is in Colorado. Progress can often be “documented” by just who you test.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Morath: “With respect to SAT and ACT scores, Dallas ISD's students of color underperformed their white peers by 34 percent the year before Miles arrived in Dallas, much worse than the 23 percent spread a decade ago. In Miles' first year, the achievement gap shrank by 2.5 percent.”

Jim, when Miles handed out the 2013 student performance measurements to the DISD Board, claiming progress, he failed to mention how it was affected by a disproportionate, 23.7%, decrease in the number of Black students tested. Mr. Miles has a long history, going back to his last 6 years in Colorado, of being able to eliminate low scoring students from testing. Here in Dallas he was also able to eliminate 18% of the Hispanic number who were tested in 2012. For the first time in SAT reporting history the total number tested, instead of going up by multiple hundreds, the numbers went down by over 400 students, from 2,995 tested in 2012, to only 2,436 tested in 2013.

GeorgeB123
GeorgeB123

Call me selfish, but if society does not invest in assuring that all children learn basic English and math by the completion of the third-grade, we are likely to victims of their crimes down the road. 

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

@EastDallasDad   Nothing is 100%. There are many kids from very wealthy homes, who don't live up to their potential, either, and don't finish college. More than you think.   I also don't believe in the term dysfunctional families. All families function, to some degree. Some just have more air in the tires, than others.

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

@EastDallasDad So True, neighbor. We tell poor children they can be doctors, lawyers, scientists, which we should keep doing for those that have the ability. For those who don't, what's wrong with having a goal as a service provider. If all you've ever seen, is your mother clean someone's toilet or your Dad mow someone's yard, or do dishes, going from a to z, would seem daunting, but going from a to g, maybe not so much. After working as a secretary in a law firm, who is to say, that in and of itself, wouldn't give a young woman confidence and motivate her to pursue a degree in law, later on.  

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@rubbercow 

There's a whole lot of research on the books to show that school principals here are the key. The only way poor kids can catch up is with a lot of rote drill n' kill, early. The only way they can do rote drill and kill is by sitting still, which requires a lot of self-discipline, which they tend not to have. Giving them that discipline seems to require a combination of stiff penalties and strong incentives, kind of like what athletes might get from a really effective coach.  The kids ultimately have to buy into it. The anomalously good schools tend to have their own little cultures, like, "We're the smartest kids in town." Hence Miles' initial focus on principals and a leadership academy. There's plenty of proof out there that it can be done. But as we have seen, getting there involves disruption oft he status quo, and the status quo bites back.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@Daniel Nice that you focus on that part but not the part before where he said that they were hard working men, washing cars, recycling junk, etc. They just get off "work" when they want to, which for many is not normal business hours. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Daniel 

Aren't they crippled? Well, I guess crippled is a poor term. They are, however, severely handicapped by their environs.

Yes, handicaps can be overcome, but it would be far better to intervene at an early age and circumvent the circumstances that produce that particular handicap than to have to do the remedial work at a stage in life when many, if not most of these people are no longer malleable, as it were. 


JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Daniel 

Could you and your girlfriends and your mom and dad and brothers and sisters read and write at the end of third grade?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@bbetzen 

Bill, how does this allegation square with Miles' initiative, already in place and funded, to make sure almost every kid will take the ACT next year? Is that what a superintendent would do if he were trying to skew the numbers by keeping kids from taking the test?

rubbercow
rubbercow

I agree. A few years back, my wife and I helped to found a neighborhood association - very long story and lots of very hard work going door to door in our neighborhood of 800 homes.

We knew we could never have any success in the neighborhood if we didn't get the neighborhood kids on board so we started working with the schools that serve our neighborhood to reach out to our neighborhood kids with opportunities to help improve the neighborhood and to talk to them about what they would like to see in the area.

They have been very supportive and take a lot of pride in their commitment and their accomplishments. The fact that they exert pressure on one another to take pride in the neighborhood is a huge factor in making it work.

Daniel
Daniel

@TheCredibleHulk @Daniel I agree, only an idiot would argue that early intervention isn't the key, or that these men wouldn't statistically be much better off had they been properly educated. (I argued neither.) But at the very least, the rhetorical flourish was mawkish. Did their voices really crack when Jim unveiled the Big Reveal that he had a job? Maybe. Sounds kind of made-for-TV.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @Daniel 

Children are extremely malleable. It is not true that the most effective way to help children is to cure their circumstances, because we don't know how to cure their circumstances. But we do know how to teach them to read, write and do arithmetic by the end of third grade, no matter what their circumstances.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @Daniel And how do we circumvent the environment around these kids?  Outlaw their parents?  Put an income requirement on getting pregnant?  For many, the circumstances that produce that particular handicap are the facts of life in their environment, in the culture.  Sure, eradicating white racism would go a long way toward healing that environment.  So would eliminating black racism and hispanic racism.  It isn't going to happen.  Racism is going to have to die out, we can't legislate it out.  So what to do?  Keep pouring money into programs that have the opposite effect?  Most of the social programs we have now produce a population dependent on them, with no motivation to improve either themselves or their situations.  For an improvement in the person, a job, a degree leading to a job, etc, also leads to a cessation or reduction in those social program benefits.  Yet another child born to a single mother who can't afford to provide for it or to move with it to a better neighborhood leads to an increase in social benefits.  We're not changing the environment, except to make it worse by degrees.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

If it's very important to you to point out your own moral superiority to these guys, have at it. It's a free country. By the way I agree with you. I have more respect for people who work than people who don't by choice. The CDF studies indicate that there's less choice here than you might imagine. But let's just agree for grins that work is better than idleness. You don't mind, do you -- you won't find a huge travesty in it, I hope  -- if I concentrate my own energies on the full literacy by third grade thing rather than the moral superiority thing. My thing offers a solution. Does yours? 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Daniel @TheCredibleHulk

After giving this a little thought, here's where I come down.

These wives, mothers and GF's, or rather, "baby momma's" aren't holding these guys responsible for their offspring. Why? Because they don't have to. We provide (barely) enough for them to get by, and in return, we require that they send said offspring to school.

No doubt that the "get those kids out of my hair" factor plays no small part in that - because if we're completely honest with ourselves about it, different people are looking for different things out of our educational system. *cough-babysitter-cough*

Getting away for a moment from the political infighting between the board and Miles, that's half the battle. We've got compulsory attendance and for the most part, an astonishingly large portion of the children of the city are regularly in school. We've got them where we need them to be, now let's figure out the best way to get the most children educated.

We can't accommodate the desires of everyone so lets let school districts refocus on educating kids and let social workers do the social work.

And as to the Miles thing, gutting a bloated and misguided administration that seems to have lost its direction is just the icing on the cake of this "education reform".

Daniel
Daniel

@TheCredibleHulk @Daniel Yeah, it's complex and I agree that the schools seem to be the last best hope, but I'm not sure we should write off the families. Social efforts conducted through libraries and rec centers have to count for something. 

Also, it is the DISD itself that "won't or can't recognize the fact that they are drowning," but I guess we all knew that.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Daniel @TheCredibleHulk 

Melodrama aside, he's got a point. The families of these children aren't going to prepare them. They aren't equipped to do so - so then it becomes the numbers game. Let's forget the touchy-feely bullshit and get down to the business of educating children and hope that it "takes" in larger numbers than it is now.

We've tried to save the families, and that just doesn't work. You can't save somebody that won't or can't recognize the fact that they are drowning. All you can do is try to throw some sort of lifeline to the ones not already lost.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JimSX @TheCredibleHulk @Daniel@JimSX @TheCredibleHulk @Daniel 

I'm with you, here,  Jim. Worded my response to Daniel, poorly. 

Get them early regardless of their home circumstances, teach them to read and at least they'll have a chance.

We can't change their home-life. Even if we could do so on a small-scale and even if a small segment of that population were amenable to that type of intervention, we lack the resources for that kind of individual care in the context of education.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JimSX @TheCredibleHulk @Daniel 

I'm with you, here,  Jim. Get them early regardless of their home circumstances, teach them to read and at least they'll have a chance.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @RTGolden1 @Daniel 

And then, Credible, you and I might also agree that literacy by the end of third grade falls far short of guaranteeing anything for everybody. That's sort of the firing of the starting gun, and then everybody has to go see how fast they can run. We're not talking across the board absolutes. We're just talking percentages and bang for the buck.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @TheCredibleHulk @Daniel 

I'm not even talking about that type of intervention. I'm with Schutze, here, regardless of the family situation or home life, first and foremost, these kids need to be reading by grade 3. Then they have a ladder to climb, if they so choose rather than a burden to carry.

ericrapesbabies
ericrapesbabies

Quit raping and eating babies, you baby-raping cannibal.

Haw haw this "liberal humor" shit is da bomb! Yuk yuk yuk.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

@JimSX We must not be reading the same research. The research I've seen says the teacher makes up the most among school-related factors (somewhere between 8 and 15 percent) but the vast majority of student achievement is determined by non-school factors. 

I went to average to bad schools but I had supportive parents and a unwavering desire to escape the life I was born into. Teachers matter, but kids and parents matter more.

Daniel
Daniel

@RTGolden1 @JimSX I meant it's not  a solution in the same way that saying "let's abolish world hunger" isn't a solution. Rather, it's  a noble goal.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@yrlibsnaive 

Well, now that you mention it, I do feel pretty superior to you. Make way, varlet.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @JimSXMy solution is tot each all children, no matter what their backgrounds, to read, write and do arithmetic by the end of third grade. 

This. If compulsory education was actually teaching the attendees to read and write, I would have much less objection to the public school system.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Daniel @JimSX 

My secret: I may be smug in the same way, I guess, since idleness gets on my nerves, too. Other people's idleness. I can't get enough of it for myself. I think I have a chip implanted in me somewhere, a lack of motion sensor that my wife can read on her phone.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@JimSX I can buy into that as not a solution, but taking the right first steps.  One of the most fulfilling parts of my military career came from my unit in Maryland sponsoring an elementary school in a pretty rough part of Baltimore.  When you have a bunch of linguists and analysts going in to tutor urban elementary students, it's extremely humbling for the tutors and extremely beneficial for the students.  Early intervention with reading and arithmetic works, I've seen it work.  Regretfully I couldn't stay on with the school, reassignment moved me on.  I don't know if those kids stayed on the learning track, there were lots of cards stacked against them in that neighborhood.  I do know they were able to read.

Daniel
Daniel

@JimSX  A) "Let's have kids read at grade level by the end of third grade" is most emphatically not a solution. 


B) I accept humbly your upbraiding for coming off as smug. Not exactly how I intended it -- there are cultural elements in the community besides a disregard for education that help perpetuate the cycle of poverty. For example, normalizing idleness. It's not that I don't acknowledge my many advantages or that I consider it these men's moral failing that they didn't have these advantages. But unrepentant idleness is a worthy thing for one's family or girlfriend to shame one for.

Tom434
Tom434

@bbetzen Agreed, it was better when in the DISD middle school was only the 7th and 8th grade

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Oh PUH-LEEEZE!! Your entire shtick is your supposed bleeding-heart "moral superiority", you hypocrite.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@bbetzen @JimSX 

How about full literacy and arithmetic by the end of third grade?

bbetzen
bbetzen

@JimSX @JimSX Motivation is certainly the issue, and we drop it in middle school. First we isolate students from their elementary cacoon too early, put them with other struggling adolescent orphans, and chaos follows. Discipline problems immediately go up 400% in 6th grade compared to 5th grade. Back pre-2005, the increase was closer to only 20% in 6th grade. Then we started moving 6th grade into middle school, one of the greatest single errors DISD has ever made. Now 6th, 7th and 8th grades have the highest numbers of disciplinary problems, and 9th graders, the previous disciplinary problem masters, are in 4th place. The only answer is to slowly move to K-8 schools, neighborhood based with less busing and more active PTA's, and better motivated students.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @JimSX 

Todd Williams has commented here and on Morning News blogs with the fact that the standard deviation of student performance is much greater among schools with very disadvantaged students than schools serving middle class and above populations. It's confirmation of a phenomenon observed for at least a decade: yes, family is important, but the teacher and the school are more important. Teachers and schools can overcome socio-economic disadvantage and bring kids to full literacy b y the end of third grade. Part of how they do that is just what you biggest--- the motivate the kids to want to learn. The first person in public office to assemble this data in a major way was George W. Bush when he was our governor.  You ask what is my solution? It really has little to do with sending kids to college. My solution is tot each all children, no matter what their backgrounds, to read, write and do arithmetic by the end of third grade. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@JimSX Actually, your thing identifies the problem.  That's it.  You even admit that you don't have the solution.  The problem is reading at grade level by grade three.  DISD, and others I assume, aren't doing it.  Now what was your solution again?  Since this isn't about blaming the schools or the teachers, and we know we can't blame the kids and parents, what is the solution?  Plain, bottom line, simple fact: The kids have to want to learn, or all the tests, studies and programs are so much wasted effort, time and money.  The KID has to want to learn.  First step, right there.  Instead of setting the goal that every kid goes to college, why don't we focus on the goal of having every kid want to learn?

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