With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mississippi, with strong Common Core and no unions, is losing Race To The Top

As long as we're racing to the top, let's take a look at how the race is going. The theory coming out of the D.O.E., the Gates Foundation and the think tanks is that implementing Common Core Standards is key to winning the race and that the main problem is "status-quo" teacher unions protecting bad teachers.

But according to the latest edition Education Week's Quality Counts report, Mississippi, with no teacher unions and strong implementation of Common Core, ranks 51st among the states and Washington, D.C., in K-12 student achievement. Only Mississippi and post-Michelle Rhee D.C. were graded "F'' in student achievement. Mississippi also ranked among the lowest 10 states in providing young people a chance for success in life, financing schools and improving teaching. Mississippi's best ranking, as has been the case for several years, was in the area of standards, where the state got an "A'' and ranked 10th.

How can that be? The answer should be obvious. As you could probably guess, Mississippi once again lags behind all other 49 states when it comes to child welfare. They're on the bottom of the scale for the 12th straight year. In fact, Mississippi’s child poverty rate is twice as high as Lithuania’s. One key indicator of the lack of school success is the State's bottom ranking when it comes to children being born with low birth weight. 

It's important to understand that Mississippi like all other states, shouldn't be looked at as a single entity when it comes to poverty and education. In Mississippi communities whose school districts have an “A” grade from the Mississippi Department of Education, the average median household income is more than $46,000 a year. In those whose district has an “F” grade, the average income is below $25,000, according to a Daily Journal analysis based on 2013 rankings.

The rest of the country has nothing to brag about when it comes to child poverty. The United States’s child poverty rate ranks second-worst among the world’s developed countries, ahead of only Romania.

Massachusetts, with  the 4th highest median family income in the country, captures the top ranking in the Chance-for-Success Index for the sixth year in a row, earning an A-minus. But even Massachusetts is really "a tale of 3 cities" when it comes to child poverty and school performance.

Side Note: Mississippi is also a state that spends a large chunk of its education and teacher training budget on imported TFA teachers. 

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