There is a truly alarming report out of Paterson, New Jersey that captures how far our educational system has declined. Only 19 kids in this large school district have SAT score that are considered appropriate for college. That means that less than a dozen score at least 1500 out of 2400 on the standardized test. This year, the average score was just 1,200. While meetings are held at the White House and across the country on Ferguson, I continue to believe that the greatest reform to benefit all races would be a greater commitment to our public schools. Too many families are trapped in a cycle of poverty with no real opportunities while our workforce becomes less and less competitive in the new economy.
The Patterson School District has 29,400 students in preschool to grade 12. On the high school level, only 19 of the 600 students reviewed were “college ready” – just three percent.”. That represents a decrease from last year when average score obtained by a student in the area was just 1,200. It is a decrease from the 26 (4.2 per cent) last year.
For kids in Patterson, the future seems quite bleak as they enter a workforce that is demanding more skilled laborers and greater levels of education. When you add an equally alarming wealth gap that is expanding in our society (here and here), it is not a good combination for a country seeking to maintain a high standard of living. As people lament over the death of the American Dream, we should look at our bizarre priorities in sending hundreds of billions in places like Afghanistan and Iraq while our educational system continues to decline. We appear to be working hard to create a low-tech workforce at a time of high-tech enterprises. One only has to look at the graduating class of Paterson, New Jersey to understand the implications of our lack of national focus on education. It is a curious result in a district that boasts as its motto that it is “Preparing All Children For College and Careers.”