Today, I came across a thought-provoking, well-written blog post by Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer entitled "Mediocrity Lobby Angry Because Grades for Schools Expose Their Incompetence", published last week. In it, Schutze argues that students who are given mediocre education in school are more likely to end up in prison, and therefore we should all be concerned with improving public education.
In particular, he gives the following stats: "Two-thirds of prison inmates in this country lack high school diplomas. All black men between the ages of 20 and 24 have a greater chance of being locked up than of having a job. Meanwhile, research has found that a 10 percent increase in high school graduation rates can produce a 9 percent decrease in crime rates."
He argues that some measure of accountability is needed to make sure taxpayers' money is "tightly and strategically focused on achievement", describes the "trial version of a new letter-grade system for schools based on a whole matrix of measurements" that the Texas Education Agency is rolling out, touches upon powerful themes such as the unforgiveness of the world toward people who can't read or do math, as well as the machinery of envy where poor people are bombarded with a "relentless barrage of wealth and glamour", takes issue with the reaction of a specific school district to the Texas Education Agency's efforts to introduce this grade-based evaluation system, which said school district apparently branded as an attempt to destroy public education, and finishes with reflections on the attitude of Texan superintendents, who he says have an average base salary of $350,000 a year, when confronted with results that suggest a large number of their students are headed for failure.
Schutze's writing is very powerful so you really have to go and read his post rather than whatever summary I can try to make of it (if you don't have time to read the whole post, the last four paragraphs are particularly sharp). I'd love to know what you think.