Our View-‘Nicklebee’ doesn’t increase high school grad rates

Yee-Haw. Sometimes we need to bite the bullet and admit that educational failures are, well, educational failures. The Daily Forty-Niner has consistently denounced the doomed products of the No Child Left Behind Act — namely for the impacts on every level of education.

Almost as if the wild, wooly world of education has been reading our editorial pages, a recently released nationwide study has shown the federal mandate of “nicklebee,” as many teachers disdainfully call it, as an assault on skin pigment, economic disadvantages and gender in childhood education.

Defined more clearly, NCLB, the plug in public education, is quite possibly the most extreme violation of human and civil rights in more than half a century; spawning such evil offspring as the California High School Exit Exam and other standardized testing schemes.

NCLB is a law that ensures inner-city youth will thrive only as a future cheap labor force.

The results of a nationwide 10-year study “Cities in Crisis; Closing the Graduation Gap” released Wednesday by America’s Promise Alliance shows that urban youth in America’s 50 largest urban centers graduate high school at a rate 18 percent lower than their suburban counterparts.

The study cited that urban high schools graduated a national average of 53 percent on time, as opposed to a national average of 71 percent between 1995 and 2005, the last year with available Department of Education data. The report named the best and worst cities for getting students to the podium. Indianapolis, the worst, only graduated 31 percent.

In the middle of the low-performing city groupings, Los Angeles tied Atlanta at 44 percent. Arizona’s Mesa Unified District pounded the large city rates by graduating “77 our of every 100 freshmen there graduating four years later,” according to The New York Times.

It’s important to include the following crunched-numbers paragraph from the study:

“Nationwide, nearly one in three U.S. high school students fails to graduate with a diploma. In total, approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year — averaging 7,000 every school day or one every 26 seconds. Among minority students, the problem is even more severe with nearly 50 percent of African American and Hispanic students not completing high school on time.”

The report continues its evaluation by estimating that the median income of high school dropouts hovers around $14,000 per year, while grads’ average pay is significantly lower than $24,000 per year. This is compared to earning potential for college undergraduate degrees at roughly $48,000 a year.

Compounding widespread disdain of NCLB is a Stanford University study semi-blasting the CAHSEE, which all California high school students must pass to grab the coveted diploma.

The Stanford study showed that “girls and students of color — who perform just as well as boys and whites, respectively, on other statewide tests disproportionately fail the exam,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Citing the “stereotype effect,” Stanford Professor Sean Reardon explained that students forced to pass the standardized requirement “are more susceptible to the stress associated with negative stereotypes — such as girl[s] are bad at math.” This is counterintuitive to age-old myths that race and gender are indicators of potential success or failure in equal learning environments.

The profundity of Stanford’s study is upheld by California’s rapidly declining high school graduation rate. Since the inception of the CAHSEE, the state’s grad rate has failed an estimated 20,000 of 475,000 12th graders per year.

Placed in this uneven Petri dish, young women and people of color have received a contaminated distribution of standardized-testing promises from NCLB and the CAHSEE. The demands come with too many strings and not enough funding support.

This obviously failed system creates a class barrier that unfairly determines success potential for both women and minorities. Policy must be adapted to ensure educational requirements that incorporate inclusion, rather than omission based on genitalia or other genetic, racial or economic factors.

The clear gauge is that human potential can’t be measured using the “gazinta” theory used by Jethro Bodine from the once-popular TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Jethro’s ciphering method was “two gazinta four three times.” In regard to NCLB, its inventor was probably some “Jethro” in an earlier life.


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