Culture, Science & Faith

The Kids Are Not Alright

Not when high school students are studying "The Three Little Pigs."

Arnold Ahlert · Aug. 10, 2015

There is virtually nothing that better ensures the continuing expansion of the Nanny/Welfare State than the legions of under-educated students produced by countless public schools across the nation. The latest outrage in this ongoing national scandal — and it is a scandal — brings us to New York City, where 11th grade students at Manhattan’s Landmark High School were engaged in a book reading and discussion assignment. The book being used? “The Three Little Pigs,” which is recommended literature in NYC public schools — for students just finishing kindergarten.

“‘The Three Little Pigs’ story was read round-robin style in a grade 11 classroom, which demonstrated limited student access in this class to grade-level text,” understated the Education Department’s Office of Accountability, which further noted the book was one of many ridiculously easy reading assignments used at the school. Landmark, which has been flagged for poor performance, is one of many “underperforming” schools in that state.

That term is grossly misleading. In a report issued by Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, highlighting the 178 schools he considered the worst in the state, two remarkably illuminating realities are revealed. First, the statewide average for Math Proficiency and English Language Arts (ELA) Proficiency measured in Grades 3-8 is pathetic. Only 34.8% of students are proficient in math, and 31.4% are proficient in ELA. Those numbers crater to 6.2% in Math and 5.9% in ELA at failing schools.

Second, and far more important in terms of understanding the despicable dynamic at work here, contrast these numbers with the reality that 95.6% of the state’s teachers were rated Highly Effective (41.9%) or Effective (53.7%), compared to only 3.7% rated Developing and a paltry 0.7% rated Ineffective.

How does an overwhelming majority of effective or highly effective teachers manage to produce a student body where more than six in 10 kids can’t pass grade level achievement tests?

Maybe a lack of funding is the issue? The report also revealed state spending per pupil was a whopping $19,552 during the 2012-2013 school year (most recent stats) a total 84% higher than the national average of $10,608. Once again, the leftist notion that a lack of funding is the problem has been shredded.

No doubt fans of the system will point to New York’s high school graduation rate of 76.4% with a measure of pride. Yet according to the same report, only 38% of those so-called graduates were deemed college ready in 2014.

Perhaps “standards” that have 11th graders reading “The Three Little Pigs” might have something to do with it.

Sadly, “so-called” is a highly accurate term. Aside from the Landmark mess, the city is also embroiled in another scandal involving the issuance of unearned diplomas. The New York Post highlights a scandal-ridden Credit Recovery Program where cheating is rampant, and rules limiting such programs to three core academic credits are broken with impunity. Over the last two years at William Cullen Bryant HS in Queens, students were earning credit “by browsing the Internet and plugging in answers for online tests,” the paper revealed. And in a confession to the Post made by student Melissa Mejia, she was given a diploma “I didn’t deserve.”

A Queens high school science teacher blogging under the pseudonym Chaz notes the “DOE will pretend that [Mejia] is an exception but we teachers know this academic fraud is commonplace throughout the system.” Why? “School administrators are under pressure to improve their graduation rates, reduce dropout rates, and increase credit accumulation,” he explains.

Pressure? This is the same state that once considered a grade of 55 on five Regents exams sufficient for receiving a “local diploma,” before raising the requirement to 65 on four exams and 55 on one in 2012.

In other words, the graduation rate is as fraudulent as everything else that informs New York public school education.

New York is hardly alone. Here’s a list of some of the other teacher cheating scandals that have been discovered, all of which have a common theme: shortchanging students to protect duplicitous educators for whom phony higher levels of achievement — that often translate into performance bonuses — are all that matter.

And make no mistake: This corruption has been going on for years, courtesy of the unholy alliance between teachers unions and the Democrat Party. The operative quid pro quo is as simple as it is onerous: union protectionism in exchange for campaign funding. As the campaign finance website Open Secrets reveals, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are, respectively, the 4th and 6th largest campaign contributors in the entire nation.

The NEA donates 97% of those contributions to Democrats. The AFT donates 100%.

The results of this alliance have been nothing short of catastrophic. When Front Page Magazine ran a series of articles detailing that reality, this writer examined the Democrat strongholds of Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago, where rampant corruption, gross fiscal mismanagement and mind-boggling levels of student underachievement — especially minority students — are the rule, not the exception.

Moreover, the hacks that run the system are proud of their handiwork. NYC teachers-union boss Mike Mulgrew once admitted that he “gummed up the works” with regard to a teacher evaluation system that has yet to be implemented five years after the feds made funds available to do so. This year, AFT president Randi Weingarten championed an effort to get parents to opt out of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. New York State United Teachers, aligned with its national and New York City counterparts, also despise standardized tests that “stress out” students, “warp” instructional efforts and give rise to “unfair” teacher evaluations.

What so many of them really despise is accountability. That is precisely why after decades of promises to reform the system, the miserable status quo remains intact. And it will remain intact until this Democrat-union alliance is completely shattered. In the meantime, American public schools will continue to produce human cannon fodder for ever-expanding, Liberty-crushing government — until Americans wake up and realize the public school system is the primary arena where the battle for the nation’s soul will be won, or lost.

As of now, it’s being lost.

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