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Failing Schools Present GOP Another Hot Election Issue

Falling reading and math scores threaten America's future.

Nothing moves the electorate more than kitchen table issues like education, health, crime, and the ability to stay financially secure. We have repeatedly shown that the Biden administration and its Democratic allies have failed America miserably on the economy and crime.

Now, there is substantial evidence that America's children are falling behind in basic skills such as reading and history. While Glenn Youngkin made it to the Virginia governor's mansion by skillfully addressing parent grievances over how schools over-emphasize the teaching of race, racism, and American history, the national GOP can run a winning campaign on far broader themes: the Democrats are failing our children and the GOP has a Contract-With-America type solution to tackle the issue.

Covid policies pushed forward by the administration, supported vigorously by the teachers' unions, resulted in extended school lockdowns and remote learning. In 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a U.S. Department of Education agency, conducted a special administration of the long-term trend (LTT) reading and mathematics assessments for students aged nine years. The goal was to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Average scores declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. The collateral damage to children spending an entire year at home without engaging in in-person learning or school-based extracurricular activities, which help build student character, has been profound.

The public school system in New York City is a prime example of how our local governments are clueless about providing families with the most basic services. The Department of Education's budget for the city's schools is $38 billion, larger than the economies of Iceland or Trinidad/Tobago. There are 1.1 million students in the system, 75,000 teachers, and nearly 60,000 bureaucrats and employees. The numbers are mind-boggling. Lack of resources is clearly not the issue.

Half of the city's children in grades three to eight, an extraordinarily high number, are now reported to fail reading tests. Black, Latino, and low-income household children, who form the majority of students, fare even worse. In a system where nearly 14% of students are English Language Learners and 72% are economically disadvantaged, this report on New York City's performance is devastating. Someone should call AOC and give her this news. She can then spend less time on social media and divert her skills to better care for her constituents.

How important are reading skills in the development of a child? The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, has recognized students for merit awards since 1955. To calculate the Selection Index Score for scholarship awards, the NMSC weights the scores on a crucial high school test administered by the College Board nationwide. The English performance is weighted at 67% to a student's Math performance at 33%. In the wisdom of the NMSC, English and Reading skills in life are twice as important as Math skills.

NYC students do not perform any better in higher grades. On the SAT, student performance is dismal, even after accounting for differences because of Covid. In 2021, the average Math score was 492 out of a maximum of 800, placing New York City children in the bottom 42% of the global student population taking the test. The average English score was worse at 484, placing children in the bottom 39% of the world's students. A city known worldwide for its domination in finance, marketing, and technology ought to do far better in educating its youth.

SAT Math Scores
SAT Evidence-Baseed Reading And Writing

The failing trend in humanities learning is national. In the NAEP annual exam to test proficiencies, the average U.S. history score in 2022 in the eighth grade decreased by 5 points compared to 2018 and 9 points compared to 2014. The average civics score in the eighth grade decreased by 2 points compared to 2018.

Failing schools is a systemic national security issue that years of ever-increasing budgets and woke policies have failed to address. In a world where A.I. tools could effectively render many white-collar professions obsolete and America's illegal migrant problem, which adds millions of impoverished, non-English speaking students to school rolls, adequate academic preparation for today's youth is essential. It is the only way America can compete against China and the BRICS nations to maintain its Superpower status.

The GOP should seize the education issue and present realistic solutions for 2024. It can likely be a huge winner, just like crime.

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