Myths vs. Facts about America’s Public Education

Thomas photo med_2Myth #10 – Anyone Can Teach, Credentials Don’t Matter

  • 2002 Arizona study found students with certified teachers performed about 20 percent better on the tests than students with noncertified teachers (including TFA)
  • Houston study of 4,400 teachers and 132,000 students concluded certified teachers consistently produced significantly higher achievement than uncertified teachers

The Life and Death of the Great American School System:  How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education – Diane Ravitch

Myth #9 – Funding and Class Sizes Don’t Matter

  • Highest funding doesn’t guarantee best performance but, Arizona has the highest cuts per nation in per pupil spending since 2008and we are 46th in education performance
  • In 2006, California began funding reduced class sizes to 20 students in grades K-3, and 25 in grades 4-12 in schools with large numbers of low-income, minority, and English learners – since then, 85% of these schools have met their goals for improving outcomes
  • Finland is consistently one of the highest achievers on the PISA assessments and has some of the smallest class sizes among the OECD nations, averaging 21 or less in all grades

Myth #8 – Schools Should Be Run Like a Business

Business needs to maximize profits, but our children cannot be a standardized “raw material” from which we “throw away” those that do not meet some pre-determined standard and who do not “perform” in the expected manner the way certain raw materials in a factory might be discarded if not felt to be appropriate for the anticipated outcome.

Myth #7 – Standardized Testing Results Tell Us Which Teachers Are Good

Standardized testing only encourages teachers to teach to the test and in some cases, even cheat for good scores.

  • Texas, the birthplace of standardized high-stakes tests recently passed its preliminary state budget, designating ZERO dollars, for standardized testing after giving test-maker Pearson a $500 million, five-year contract just last year
  • About 880 Texas school districts, representing 4.4 million students, signed a resolution saying standardized testing (like AIMS and PARCC) is bad for education

Myth #6 – The Problem with Traditional Public Education is Teacher’s Unions

  • If unions are the problem, why:
  • Do those states that do not allow teachers to negotiate binding contracts, such as TX, VA, NV, AZ, and TN, rank in the middle or near the bottom?
  • Do the states with strong teacher’s unions: MA, CT, and NJ, rank at the top?
  • Do charter schools, most of which are non-union, not perform consistently better than comparable neighborhood schools?
  • Does Finland, which is 100% unionized, rank at the top in the 2009 PISA assessments

Myth #5 – Traditional Public Schools are Failing our Children and Charter Schools Perform Better

  • A 2009 Stanford University study compared the reading and math state achievement test scores of 70% of U.S. charter school students—to those of their virtual “twins” in traditional public schools who shared with them certain characteristics
  • Only 17% showed any significant growth in math scores over traditional public-school equivalents; 46% were the same and 37% were lower
  • In reading, charter students on average realized a growth less than their public-school counterparts

Myth #4 – Poverty Does Not Affect a Child’s Educational Performance

Family income is the single most reliable predicator of student test scores.  Living in a neighborhood with a high poverty rate can mean:

  • 22% do not graduate from high school, compared to 6% of those who’ve never been poor
  • 32% of students who spent more than half their childhoods in poverty do not graduate
  • If the students who dropped out of the 2011 Class had graduated, the nation’s economy would likely see nearly $154 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes

Myth #3 – American K-12 Education Ranks Far Behind the Rest of the World

Again, this isn’t true.  On the latest global tests, the U.S. scored higher in poverty-to-poverty comparisons than any other nation in the world

Myth #2 – Early Childhood Education Provides No Appreciable Benefit

  • Disadvantaged children who don’t participate in high-quality early education programs are:  50% more likely to be placed in special education, 25% more likely to drop out of school, 60% more likely to never attend college, 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime, 40% more likely to become a teen parent
  • Every dollar spent on early learning programs for at-risk children yields $7 to $9 in future savings on expenditures like special education and prison and can improve America’s competitiveness in a global economy by as much as 16% per year

Myth #1 – School Choice is the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time (Senator Melvin)

The civil rights issue of our time is actually “unequal access to quality education” and this unequal access is largely driven by poverty as shown by these following facts:

  • Thousands of charter schools don’t provide subsidized lunches, putting them out of reach for families in poverty
  • Hundreds mandate that parents spend hours doing “volunteer” work for the school or risk losing their child’s seat
  • The vast majority require parents to transport their children to the charter school
  • Application procedures can be extensive (handwritten essays, references and exams)


2 thoughts on “Myths vs. Facts about America’s Public Education

  1. Pingback: Myths Taken as Reality | Live Long and Prosper
  2. Pingback: Fighting Myths with Facts | Live Long and Prosper

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