Study: Virtually None of Eighth Graders In Detroit Meet Proficiency Levels In Math and Reading

SchoolClassroom250px-Flag_of_Detroit,_Michigan.svgWe have followed the continuing failure of the public school systems in cities like Detroit and Washington D.C. where students are graduating without basic skills or ability to compete in the new economy for valuable jobs. Instead, they are left without any meaningful chance to break the cycle of poverty that often holds them in a stagnant social strata. The most recent review of Detroit demonstrates just how badly we have failed these children. The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics shows that 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading. This is the result despite spending approximately $14,743 per student in the school system.

The situation nationwide is not particularly gratifying with only 33 percent of public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading in 2015 and only 32 percent scored proficient or better in mathematics. However, that is still an astonishing contrast to Detroit.

With only 4 percent of students proficient in math and 7 percent proficient in reading, the Detroit school officials have utterly failed in managing the system. Moreover, the dismal performance of the schools matches the a long history of corruption and incompetence in other areas of government in Detroit. On every level, public officials have failed the voters of the city to deliver the most basic services. Yet, there is no move to remove these leaders and officials in gross for what they have done to this once great American city.

The next lowest city was Cleveland where officials only achieved an 11 percent scoring proficiency in reading and 8 percent in math Among the rogue’s gallery were also Baltimore and Fresno (tied for third worst with only 13 percent scoring proficient or better in reading and 12 percent in math) and Philadelphia ranked fifth worst with only 16 percent scoring proficient or better in reading while Los Angeles ranked fifth with 15 percent in math.

What is equally depressing is that Detroit is failing a current population of 48,905 students. That is roughly 50,000 students who are being released into a world without the skills needed for success. As I have said before, this is the real crisis in our country. We will continue to see a downward spiral in the economy and crime unless we overhaul our public educational system. Otherwise, these children will be trapped in a poverty cycle that they cannot realistically escape.

I understand that many of these kids are coming from broken homes or extreme poverty that makes the task far more challenging for the schools. However, these statistics are still an utter disgrace for any system and show massive budgets being spent without minimal and measurable success. I am not one who looks to public voucher systems as the solution. I still believe in public education and I have sent my kids to public schools. I believe these schools play an important role in our democratic systems in raising future citizens. We cannot fail in this basic task as a nation and remain a viable and successful country in the increasing challenging global economy. These scores reflect a permanent underclass where these children are finished before they even start to make their way in life.

67 thoughts on “Study: Virtually None of Eighth Graders In Detroit Meet Proficiency Levels In Math and Reading”

  1. There are no outcome expectations for education. I’m in Healthcare and that is becoming an outcome based profession. Mention that in education, and the liberals go berserk. The Democrats will simply throw good money after bad…you know for the kids. B.S.!!! The current system wil collapse. We are competing against Japan and China. We’re losing.

  2. It took Russia/USSR 74 years to experience the failure of communism.

    It will take some period of time for Americans to grasp the deleterious effects of nationalized education and teachers unions.

    As the communists ultimately dissolved the USSR, America will dissolve the Department of Education and the NEA. The many local systems of education have been hijacked by national union thugs for the sole benefit of national union thugs. Reagan terminated greedy, extremist, striking air traffic controllers for the benefit of the flying and paying public. Americans will terminate the greedy, extremist, striking teachers and eliminate unions.

    The important component in public school is the student, not the teacher. That is axiomatic and proven by statistical studies of educational outcomes. Good students with bad teachers prevail statistically over bad students with good teachers. The likes of Bill Gates, Einstein and Lincoln obtained nothing from the Department of Education and didn’t need college degrees. Public school teachers should only need a high school education and a teaching certificate. Teacher requirements for college degrees prove the failure of public schools to produce effective teachers. Requirements for unnecessary college degrees simply make it more difficult for management to hire striker replacement teachers.

    Given the examples of the convictions of various Atlanta “teachers” and dubious graduation rates, the product of “Big Education” is fraud, deceit, falsification of documents and failure. Public school has no mandate to teach the frivolous and bizarre or anything other than fundamental skills. Local parents and taxpayers should vote in the curricula. Courses that do not support basic education should be private and privately funded.

    Governmental workers were intended to function under the same methodology as the military and the post office – being disciplined, following orders and producing spartan, austere and low budget, affordable efficiency. Americans pay for a Maserati and drive home a Yugo.

    “Mission creep” into unrelated industries, such as electricity generation and distribution and food service, must be ended. Local utilities supply energy and parents must provide meals.

    Teacher pay should be only that necessary to retain a non-union workforce. Teachers desirous of wealth should engage the “pursuit of happiness” in the private sector.

  3. Barkin, Amen!!! Spoke w/ friends in KC. They took their kids and grandkids to the parade and rally. All schools were off for the celebration. If you know KC, the parade went from downtown to Union Station where the rally was held. Players mingling w/ fans along the route, taking selfies. We are both longtime baseball fans. You are from a great baseball city, maybe the greatest. This Royals team is a throwback to my youth. Fun to watch and true chemistry. In just the last couple months, 3 players had parents die. They all grieved and I think it created a true love for each other that manly men spoke about openly. That’s not old school, but much more healthy. I haven’t lived in KC for decades but still love the city.

  4. Off topic, but: Kansas City won the World Series. They are a great team and the city is great. The national media just went blank after the last pitch. Had the Mets won the media would be covering the celebration parade in NYC tonight. The media ignored the parade in KC.

    I have a backlash against this NYC media. If some Yorkie starts yakking n his “turdy turd and a turd” accent I turn the TV off or to another channel. Guys like Jay Leno make me puke. It is time for the national media to move to a neutral city such as Kansas City. We do not need the Today Show each morning with an outdoor crowd in Manhattan. Oh, and I am soooo glad that the Royals beat the Mets 4 to 1 in games. And that they clobbered them in the extra inning game to win it all.

  5. randyjet: “The basic problem is capitalism which explains why money spent on poverty programs or federal spending goes astray.”

    Socialism would put the nail on the coffin of these kids ambitions or dreams. Right now, the biggest ambition going on is mass pit production, sadly. Socialism would guarantee the same wage for all the teachers with no incentive to teach and give the students no ambition to achieve. At least capitalism gives us a chance to make something of ourselves and for ourselves.

    I grew up in the Midwest in a small town with 6 of us living in a 3 bedroom home. We were just middle class people. I worked my way through college. Never got a penny from my family. But I feel I did well for myself.

    I just sold my home and bought a home in the country with acreage with cash. Close to a lake and it has a barn for my horse. I have no mortgage and no credit card debt. Socialism would never allow me to accomplish any of that on my own and no one owns it but me and my hard work and capitalism.

  6. Darren – great post. Both of my grandfathers were poor and they achieved the middle class. One of my grandfathers left home as a teenager during the Great Depression because there were too many mouths to feed. He hopped on a train and worked his way across the country. There was a strong work ethic, and sense of responsibility. My grandfather said you had great pride and satisfaction just in having and keeping a job. My own father lost both of his parents while he was in college, and he had to sell his books to buy food at a low point. But he had a will of iron and he persevered.

    Poverty and being raised by a single mother does indeed put up a lot of hurdles for kids to succeed. Safe after school programs and tutoring can help, but most of all, those kids need to have a sense of purpose and drive to succeed.

    I was just talking to the man who runs the tire shop this morning, where I had my tire patched. He’s a former gang member who’d gotten his 3rd strike just before CA passed it’s 3 Strikes Law. He’d been in prison riots. I asked him what changed. How did he get out? He said that he was at a bad point in his life, homeless, just aimlessly walking. He called the girl he liked, who is now his wife. She came and got him, fed him, and said he had two choices. Continue on with his life as he’d been living it, walk out her door, and loose her number. Or he could turn his life around, drop all his criminal friends and ways, and be with her. He chose her, and now he’s got a great life.

    There are teenagers in his family, as well as kids of friends, who are currently throwing their lives away. One friend’s son is now serving life for murder, while his 2 brothers are blowing up their own chances. He’s tried over and over again to talk sense to them, but he said they hear him but they don’t listen. Nothing he says breaks through that they’re throwing away their chances.

    If we can figure out how to light the fire of ambition and self improvement in teenagers for whom the flame has died out, we’ll save so many kids from a life of crime and poverty.

  7. randyjet:

    “The basic problem is capitalism which explains why money spent on poverty programs or federal spending goes astray.”

    Your examples include a politician landlord who voted himself a raise by increasing rent corresponding to Welfare increases, as well as our broken government procurement system, where we overpay and contractors under deliver, as well as outright fraud.

    Why do you blame capitalism for what was clearly wrongdoing in government? Government as well as private enterprise, is as good and honest as the people running them.

    I haven’t lived in Section 8 housing, but I have lived in Low Income Housing. They were only allowed to increase the rent by a small percentage periodically. Such a regulation is one that I support. The housing was also not concentrated low income, but rather, they set aside a certain number of units for low income in an otherwise market rent building. I think that’s a far better approach than Section 8 housing that concentrates the poor and the misery all in one place.

    There are similar instances of fraud and corruption in non-capitalist societies, of which I’m sure you are aware.

  8. Lisa, I saw this type behavior back in the 1970’s in inner city KC high schools. There are so many issues in this video. Since the classroom is only a few students, good chance these are “special need” kids, I’m going to take a wild guess and say behavior disorder students. The issue I would point out is this is what happens w/ union teachers. Those w/ seniority don’t work these classes. This woman was probably a sub. I know a guy in Chicago who worked as a sub for 5 years and these were the classes they gave him. He was a big guy and although I never saw him in the classroom, I surmise he held his own. You don’t do it for 5 years if you’re treated like this teacher. Cops are needed in schools, but I don’t see that as the main issue here. Where you need your best, toughest, teachers; the union system puts the most incompetent. It would be preferable to have a good, male teacher in this setting, but many good, tough women teachers could handle these kids.

  9. Detroit schools must be like Los Angeles public schools, here they’re just a babysitting organization

  10. Thanks, Nick.

    The school year is in full swing and my computer croaked (and typing on my phone is irksome). I deeply care about education, so I took a deep breath and have been using my phone to read and post.

    It has been a good thread, but I would like to hear what Aridog has to contribute, too.

  11. Well said DBQ and Darren Smith…

    There are many problems with public education in this country, but the biggest two can be summed up pretty simply: Systemic bureaucracy in the education hierarchy and a lack of enforceable behavioral and academic standards for all students.

    Certainly poor parenting skills play a part as far too many parents send kids to school unprepared to learn and ignorant of the consequences of not learning… But education administrators at all levels of of our public schools are unwilling to set and enforce standards of behavior and achievement for students. Every year we “graduate” more and more young adults out of our high schools who are functionally illiterate in math, science, and reading comprehension.

    As I grow older and see the nonsense in our schools continue year after year, I become more convinced than ever that public education in this country is much more about supporting bureaucrats and labor unions than it is about effectively teaching children.

  12. “Capitalism is the problem”, says Randyjet.

    Then, in virtually a complete non sequitur, he elucidates with two examples of government waste.


  13. Frankly, I tire of the perennial excuses launched by many public school officials that they cannot inspire and teach their students to at least an average or better educational level on the pretext that their children are impoverished. 96% failure rates are so bad nearly any company I know of would have fired them and replaced their staff with competent employees.

    Certainly poverty can be a significant factor, but it is not an excuse to pour more money to fix a problem that the employees could make steps to address.

    Anecdotally, my mother grew up during her formative years living in a two room company cabin with her parents and two other siblings. Her father worked as a laborer in an apple orchard. They certainly had little money back then. But my grandfather worked his way up in life and eventually secured a career with the post office. My mother married my father just after High School, her brother enlisted in the military, and her sister went on to graduate with a masters degree. Their family friends who also worked in the orchards worked up the ladder also and both of their children also attended university and graduated. The grandchildren of both parents all attended college or university.

    It can be done folks, but it involves a willingness to do so. All the money poured into the Detroit system could have corrected substantially the situation but instead the opposite happened. Pouring more money in is just going to reward broken actors.

    It is not the poor students that are the problem, it is the poor quality teachers and administration that is largely to blame.

    1. Darren – the biggest problem is social promotion. They didn’t learn as a first grader but were passed to the 2nd grade. Now they are behind. And the cycle continues. And with immigrants this is just as serious a problem. They are ignorant in their home language and they are ignorant in their new language.

      There is a study that shows that if a student has a good teacher at least every other year they can succeed in elementary school. However, two poor teachers in a row and they are lost forever. There is other literature to show the key learning point in grade 3. If they all have the basics at the end of grade 3 they can get to grade 8. Arizona now requires 3rd graders to be held back if they cannot pass the standardized tests.

  14. It is true that humans need to have some sort of anchor or core belief. This is just an anthropological observation of long standing. The core belief can be in a God, in a code of conduct, in a spirit guide, totems….whatever. People have been inventing and creating these core beliefs since we were able to peck out designs on cave walls.

    Whether YOU personally believe in someone else’s core belief or agree with it is not the point. The issue is by having a core, an anchor and a community around you that is coherent in their core the community will be more stable and supportive of each other as part of the community. Hopefully the core belief is a beneficial thing, like revering hard work, altruism, learning and charity and not a destructive belief that leads to genocide and war.

    However, when there is no core or anchor people will be rudderless and may latch onto an anchor that may not be so beneficial or desirable. This is what happened in Nazi Germany. This is what has happened in the gang ridden inner cities. When you remove the anchor or core belief, you create a vacuum wherein something else WILL emerge. Be careful about what you destroy, you may not like the replacement that will arise.

    Religion as the core belief, reverence for the family structure, and a respect for learning are some of the things that are missing in the inner cities, and in much of the elitist american culture. The structure that those beliefs give to a society are the main reason that a person like Dr. Carson was able to escape his circumstances.

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