Use more than one study to rate schools

Use more than one study to rate schools

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On Jan. 14, The Pantagraph's "OtherViews" featured a Belleville News-Democrat editorial critical of public schools. Predictably, and disappointingly, this "other view" was simply the same view pushed often by The Pantagraph and others. For a genuine "alternative look," please read further.

The "OtherViews" claimed how public schools don't prepare students for the workforce. Yet, labor statistics consistently report that U.S. workers, of which the vast majority is public school products, lead the advanced industrialized world in productivity, as well as in hours, days and overtime worked per year.

Also, the "OtherViews" maintained that American jobs are lost to countries that have better-educated workers. However, companies are not heading overseas due to a lack of educated Americans. This off-shoring occurs because educated foreigners are willing to work for considerably lower pay, A Pantagraph article March 25, 2004, even reported this trend:, "…undergraduates in U.S. universities are starting to abandon their studies (19% drop) in computer technology and engineering amid worries about the accelerating pace of off-shoring by high-technology employers,"

Research published at Penn in 2005 showed how, depending on one's agenda, a particular study could be used to support almost any belief about U.S. schools. This finding debunks The Pantagraph's "OtherViews" and many critics who find a singular negative survey, and then use it to condemn all public schools. Convincingly, this same Penn study used multiple surveys, multiple wage levels and multiple subject matters to conclude that American students generally perform above average internationally. Still, many critics perceive "above average" as failing. To them, "first in the world" is the only acceptable outcome. However, the United States is not "first in the world" in reducing such factors as poverty or inadequate infant healthcare, and there is plenty of proof showing those dynamics to he strong predictors of low educational achievement.

Dan Nagle

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