Raising the Grade
Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth and Our Nation
By Bob Wise.
Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, who now serves as president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, takes on the challenge of how high schools need to change in order to prepare their students for the realities of the global economic workplace.
His indictment won’t come as much of a surprise to classroom teachers who confront these problems daily. But his words perhaps have even more significance after the fall of the Occupy Wall Street protests, with the growing recognition of the income gap in America and the implications of that divide for the nation’s future.
As Wise writes: “The truth is that the majority of America’s middle and high schools are failing dismally to educate all of their students well and prepare them for the rapidly evolving challenges and opportunities that await them when they leave school …. Rather than highly engaging institutions of learning that serve as stepping stones to success, many of our secondary schools have become warehouses of student failure.”
The failures are amplified by the racial gap as well. When Wise wrote his book, 70 percent of all American high school students earned their diplomas within four years. For Hispanic students, the rate was 58 percent, while for African-American students the rate was 53 percent. Compare that to a graduation rate of 76 percent of white students.
No wonder, writes Wise, that “a critical lack of investment in secondary school education is contributing to the social, political and economic breakdown of generations of young Americans while at the same time undermining U.S. global competitiveness.”
Some of the remedies Wise proposes are not necessarily new. There are familiar tropes, among them: make sure that federal intervention doesn’t cause harm to those at the district level who have to carry out legislation; have additional federal funds linked to education reforms that are evidence- and best practice-based; use federal policy to scale up programs that have already been shown to work, and, above all, be sure that federal policy enables all students to receive a quality education.
The prescription has been in place. What’s needed now is the political will do something positive and meaningful for high school reform, as Wise urges. #