Even as the number of children in New Hampshire is shrinking, the number of poor children is increasing. It isn’t up to schools alone to respond, but our schools do play an important role – first by trying to reach every child that comes in the door.
But that has to be a shared goal that the whole community and state buys into. Kristof’s writes in the Times the Americans used to buy in but don’t seem to anymore. He points out that,
Among young Americans whose parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5 percent make it through college themselves. In other rich countries, the figure is 23 percent.
As recently as 2000, the United States still ranked second in the share of the population with a college degree. Now we have dropped to fifth. Among 25-to-34-year-olds — a glimpse of how we will rank in the future — we rank 12th, while once-impoverished South Korea tops the list.
He goes on:
Then the United States was the first major country, in the 1930s, in which a majority of children attended high school. By contrast, as late as 1957, only 9 percent of 17-year-olds in Britain were in school.
Until the 1970s, we were pre-eminent in mass education, and Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz of Harvard University argue powerfully that this was the secret to America’s economic rise. Then we blew it, and the latest O.E.C.D. report underscores how the rest of the world is eclipsing us.
In effect, the United States has become 19th-century Britain: We provide superb education for elites, but we falter at mass education.
We here in New Hampshire can’t fix the country but we can make a difference in our own small state. We can start by supporting high quality preK for four year olds. We can support our schools’ efforts to personalize learning in a way the reaches every child – from those we need to challenge more to those who need the most help.