Following up on my blog post titled “The State of America’s Children 2011,” I want to return to a little-noticed story from earlier this summer on college-readiness.
Sharon Otterman, writing in The New York Times, reviewed the dismal data that the New York State Education Department released in June. The study shows “that only 37 percent of students who entered high school in 2006 left four years later adequately prepared for college, with even smaller percentages of minority graduates and those in the largest cities meeting that standard.”
Furthermore, Otterman highlights:
“In New York City, 21 percent of the students who started high school in 2006 graduated last year with high enough scores on state math and English tests to be deemed ready for higher education or well-paying careers. In Rochester, it was 6 percent; in Yonkers, 14.5 percent. The new calculations, part of a statewide push to realign standards with college readiness, also underscored a racial achievement gap: 13 percent of black students and 15 percent of Hispanic students statewide were deemed college-ready after four years of high school, compared with 51 percent of white graduates and 56 percent of Asian-Americans.”
As states face increasing numbers of children enrolled in public schools, the vast majority of states (37 of 44 states for which data are available) intend to spend less on services in 2012 than they spent in 2008 – even though the cost od providing services will be higher. Thirty-eight states with new budgets are making deep, identifiable cuts in K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key areas in fiscal year 2012.
- Washington’s budget cuts an amount equal to $1,100 per student in K-12 funds for reducing class size, extended learning time, and teachers’ professional development.
- Arizona has frozen enrollment in part of its Medicaid program, so that an estimated 100,000 low-income people who previously would have qualified will not be able to enter the program, and another 150,000 will face more stringent rules for retaining eligibility.
- Florida’s cuts in funding for the state’s universities has led to tuition hikes of 15 percent for the new school year, bringing the cumulative tuition increase since 2009 to 52 percent. (Source: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3550)
At the same time, 12 states with budget shortfalls enacted tax cuts, deepening the spending cuts imposed to balance budgets. In almost all cases, the beneficiaries of these cuts were large corporations and high-income individuals.
Where will this leave us as a nation? How will we compete in the global marketplace? What impact will this have on our fragile communities and the tenuous social fabric that barely maintains peace in an ever less equitable nation? Failing our children will generate growing social service costs, as more and more citizens are unable to find a productive place in the workforce.
Recently, an organization I co-founded, the American Sustainable Business Council, proposed a way out of out debt crisis and a way forward to rebuild and invest in our future.
Sadly, we had little impact on the debate but our suggestions deserve discussion and debate if we are to fulfill our promise and potential.