When it comes to The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the reason why I support nonviolent civil disobedience, such as helping students cheat on standardized tests, is because this act and the reaction of the critics is unfair to American teachers and is misleading.
In fact, the NCLB Act is a travesty and is unjust. In addition, the media does a poor job of reporting the results of the PISA Test, and the enemies and critics of public education in America take advantage of that poor reporting to influence the opinions of ignorant citizens such as Mr. Morally Correct.
Most Americans only hear that the US placed 17 out of 65 for reading literacy, 31 of 65 for math literacy and 23 of 65 for science literacy. Then being ignorant of the details, these people are easily mislead, and manipulated forming biased opinions.
One fact that we do not hear in the Media or from the enemies and critics of public education appears on page 48 of the 2000 PISA report, where the United States was listed as above average (compared to the OECD average of 65 countries) in reading literacy, mathematics literacy and science literacy.
In addition, for Math literacy, US students scored twice the OECD average. SOURCE: nces.ed.gov
When you actually study the details of the report, the US public education system does very well compared to other countries considering the structure of the American education system and the challenges it faces.
For example, China, which placed 1st in reading, math and science literacy (for the 2009 PISA Test), cannot be compared to the United States or any other country.
Compulsory education in China for primary education is from ages 6 to 12 and there were 121 million students enrolled in this system in 2001. However, in the US, compulsory education starts with ages 5/6 to 18 for more than 47 million students.
Almost half the students in China drop out of school at age 12 or enter vocational training, while the other half go on to the junior secondary education system, which educates ages 12 to 15 where only 66.8 million were enrolled in 2002, which means 55.2 million students left the education system at the end of the primary system.
Another 54.8 million children leave the education system in China at the end of the junior secondary system at age 15.
China’s senior education system educates ages 15 to 18 where about 12 million students remain. This is the student population in China that was tested in Shanghai for the 2009 PISA test, and Shanghai’s public schools are the best in China, which means China’s top 10% of all students.
To be accepted into the senior education system in China, students must take an entrance test called the ‘Zhongkao’, which is the Senior Secondary Education Entrance Examination held annually in China to distinguish junior graduates.
Admission for senior high schools is somewhat similar to the one for universities in China. Once the admissions and testing process is completed, the high schools announce their requirements based on this information and the spots they will fill that year.
For instance, if a school offers 800 spots, the results offered by the 800th intake student will be the standard requirements. So effectively, this ensures the school selects the top candidates of all the students that have applied in that academic year.
China’s school system operates mostly on meritocracy so only the best students move on, while the US keeps every student until age 18 no matter what their academic performance, attitude toward education or classroom behavior is.
This means that in China, the dropout rate by age 15 is 90%, while in America the dropout rate is about 8.1% by age 18 (drop our rate in 2009 – Asian/Pacific Islander 3.4%, White 5.2%, African-American/Black 9.3%, and Hispanic/Latino 17.6%).
It is not fair to compare a cross section of American students of all skill levels with China’s top 10%. With this discrepancy, there is no way America’s students selected at random from across the country from all racial and socio-economic levels will ever be able compete with China for the number one rank on any PISA Test.
Yet, 12% of American students that took the PISA test, on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) scored a 5 with an overall average that was higher than China’s top 10%.
As you have discovered, there is a HUGE difference between the public education systems in China and Finland when compared to the United States and the ability of students selected to take the PISA Test.
However, the enemies and critics of America’s public school systems do not want you to know these facts.
Continued on August 4, 2011, in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 5 or return to Part 3
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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