These three charts show some remarkable trends over the past 3 decades or so in American schools:
(1) The dramatic increase in ‘minority’ population among our school-children;
(2) The near-collapse of the Catholic school system;
(3) The dramatic increase in adults who have attended college or universities.
None of these indicate that our public school system is failing — on the contrary, they seem to show dramatic improvements since the year I began teaching full-time (1978).
This first graph shows that white (European-American, or Caucasian) kids are a smaller and smaller fraction of our school-age population, while our minority populations, especially Asians and Hispanics, have expanded dramatically.
When you consider that many of our adult Hispanic immigrants, whatever their legal status, were very poorly educated back in their home countries and are almost illiterate in both Spanish or English, the fact that our students’ scores are either stable or rising, you must conclude that our public schools are doing a decent job, on the whole.
Let me emphasize: white students have gone from 79% (almost four-fifths)of the total in 1978 to only 52% (about half) of the total cohort last year. Hispanic students have expanded dramatically, from a mere 5% of the total (one student in twenty) back 35 years ago, to 26% (over one in four) right now. Black and Hispanic students, as a fraction of the whole, have gone from about 19% (one in five) to 39% (nearly two out of five) in the past three and a half decades.
All that, while scores are either steady or increasing.
Now, let us look at the types of schools where kids are enrolled. I see that the Catholic school system has nearly collapsed, and the public schools (which includes charter schools) have taken up the slack. Unfortunately, NAEP does not give data on what fraction of the kids go to those charter schools. Schools marked “other” are a variety of other privately-run schools. If we add together the Roman Catholic parochial schools and all the other types of private or ‘independent’ schools of all types, or if you just look at the height of the blue columns, you can see that the public school sector is in fact educating a larger fraction of our students than at any time in the past 35 years.
Which you will never see acknowledged by any of our corporate educational DEformers.
Next, let’s look at the adults who are raising these kids. When I started teaching in DC public schools back in 1978, 60% of all NAEP-sampled middle-school kids’ parents either never graduated high school, or were only HS grads, or had “unknown” educational achievements. Last year, by comparison, that fraction of the adults had dwindled to 32% – cut just about in half.
By contrast, the fraction of parents who attended at least some college, or graduated from college, went from 40% to 67% of the whole — that is, from two-fifths to two-thirds, which is a huge jump.
Not bad for a ‘Nation at Risk’!
All the data come from page 56 of the latest report on NAEP’s long-term trends.