Every three years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development test fifteen-year-olds around the world and releases the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Report. The American Federation of Teachers has put together a great little video about what we can learn from the most recent results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XchNCnYo6KA#
Funding equity is perhaps the most significant issue when one digs down into the results. The U.S. leads most other countries in the PISA results when you look at schools with less than 10% poverty. And for schools between 10-75% poverty, the U.S. ranks near the top. It is with schools that have higher than 75% poverty that we drop in the rankings. Given our funding pattern, this is not surprising. The PISA results show that we rank near the bottom in providing poor children with equal access to quality educational materials. We are only one of four countries where the student-to-teacher ratios are higher for disadvantaged students. And only three countries have cut more in education funding than the U.S.
We know what helps students most by looking at what the highest performing countries are doing.
- Early childhood education
- Funding equity
- Teacher support
- Community partnerships
- High student expectations
Notice that nothing from the plan pushed by the so-called reformers, profiteers and segregationists is on the list:
- For-profit education
- High-stakes testing
- Merit pay
- Weakening teacher voice
- Closing neighborhood schools
Unfortunately, the focus in Texas and the U.S. in recent years has been to starve public schools (particularly those that serve low-income students), then criticize them, and then attempt to privatize them.
Texas teachers and support personnel have an opportunity to turn this around. Texas students deserve equity in education, as well as increased funding for all school districts with enrichment included. Regardless of the political affiliation of candidates, make sure they support real public education before you give them your vote in the March 2014 primaries and the November 2014 general election.