Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Case You Missed It!

A Sputnick Moment 
for Our Schools, Our Nation, Our Children? 

 "With China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam. "

“Wow, I’m kind of stunned, I’m thinking Sputnik,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., who served in President Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education, referring to the groundbreaking Soviet satellite launching. Mr. Finn, who has visited schools all across China, said, “I’ve seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and in 50 cities by 2029.” 

“We have to see this as a wake-up call,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview on Monday.“I know skeptics will want to argue with the results, but we consider them to be accurate and reliable, and we have to see them as a challenge to get better,” he added. “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.” 

"In reading, Shanghai students scored 556, ahead of second-place Korea with 539. The United States scored 500 and came in 17th, putting it on par with students in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and several other countries." from "Top Test Scores From Shanhai Stun Educators" by Sam Dillon, in The New York Times.

The last time there was an orchestrated unified, national reading advocacy and education campaign was in the late 1950's in reaction to the "Space Race." And it was a successful campaign; literacy skill levels increased as well as leisure reading. Isn't it time for everyone interested in national literacy, in promoting and developing our kids' critical and creative thinking skills, to band together for a new national national education campaign that will give all adults who live with and work for children the skills they need to promote and teach literacy skills, and teach and expand our kids' critical and creative thinking in the arts, humanities and sciences? We all need to take collective responsible for all our children's education-- parents, family members, community leaders, youth leaders, educational professionals, politicians, government, business and corporate leaders, the media-- everyone!


"The cause of the racial gap in student achievement has nothing to do with the children, and everything to do with the values and priorities of the society in which we live." Pedro Noguera.

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