April 3rd, 2008
04:59 PM ET

Education crisis in American cities

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/03/art.graduation.gi.jpg caption=]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The education crisis in America's largest cities is assuming frightening proportions.

Only about half of all students who attend the main school systems in the 50 largest cities actually graduate from high school. A study by the non-profit "Editorial Projects in Education Research Center" describes graduating from high school in these cities as quote "a coin toss." This rate of 52% is far below the national graduation rate of 70%.

The main school districts of Detroit, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Baltimore had the lowest rates in the country, all below 40%. In Detroit, Michigan the high school graduation rate is 25%.

Not surprisingly there is a sharp contrast between urban and suburban schools. In 35 of the nation's largest cities, graduation rates were lower in the city than in the suburbs. Sometimes the difference was more than 35 percentage points. In Baltimore, 82% of students in suburban districts graduated; only 35% of the kids in the city did.

Nationwide, almost one in three high school students drops out before graduation – that's about 1.2 million dropouts every year. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell calls the dropout rate not just a crisis, but a catastrophe. He's the founding chairman of the group that presented the report.

Officials say more community involvement is needed, and leaders of business and faith-based groups are being urged to make graduation a priority when they talk with students.

Here’s my question to you: How can the U.S. compete globally when only about half the students in our largest cities graduate from high school?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

KB from Iowa writes:
As a former teacher, I feel I have the right to say our system is broken. We're still teaching school like it's the 1950s to kids living in the year 2008. We need to move away from a system based on grade levels and put together a system based on objectives and outcomes, then present it to students in a way that is more relevant to their times. My 10-year-old learned more from the 2-hour history channel show about the Revolutionary War than it took her teacher 4 weeks to cover in her book. Why? Because my 10-year-old imports information in a much different way than kids did 50 years ago.

Dan from New York writes:
Dear Jack, The low graduation rate in this country is alarming, but the more alarming issue is the level of education reflected by those who do graduate. Far too many of them are functionally illiterate. I think the effort to get more students to get diplomas is wasted if that diploma doesn't represent something valuable.

Aron from Toronto writes:
You're kidding, right? That ship has sailed. As one who traveled 200,000 miles on business last year, I can tell you for certain that the world places no hope, no weight upon America's youth making even a future ripple in the global waters… Having visited the top public schools in India and China, I can assure you that the future for America's youth is much bleaker than even the greatest skeptics could imagine.

Richard from Syracuse writes:
As a life-long resident of Syracuse, New York, I have seen young black kids beaten up because they want to learn. They have the drive and desire to learn more and more. But other blacks beat them up because they are "trying to be white". Education is the great equalizer and as long as our inner cities ignore education and beat up those who want to learn there will never be equality.

soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. Brian


    As a recent college graduate, I can say it's the quality of graduates that counts. It is sad that so many students are not graduating from high school or college, but it doesn't take a million people to do great things. It only takes a couple, and America's high schools and universities are still producing bright young thinkers who will find ways to pull us out of the economic mud we're in and continue our status as front runners in the global economy.

    Moscow, Idaho

    April 3, 2008 at 2:08 pm |
  2. Gigi in Alabama

    Hey. . . tell those big companies like Microsoft to start looking at some of our smaller cities. The rate of graduation is much higher and the quality of education is just as good. You people tend to look at cities like Detroit and believe me, they are not the norm.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  3. Mike from Syracuse NY


    We'll continue to fill our colleges and universities with foreign students, who appreciate the value of education. Many stay in this country after school, and provide the continuing influx of new engineers, doctors, and scientists that we need to function as a society. Native born Americans who drop out will be washing the cars of people from other countries, who still believe in the American Dream.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  4. Tanilan

    First we need to get back to teaching curriculum instead of teaching the test! For those kids that don't want to learn, we need to find them a trade and train them in a viable skill that will allow them to become a productive part of the workforce. But first, we need to bring back the thousands of jobs we have outsourced to the countries we are supposedly trying to compete with.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  5. Glenn, Houston

    Jack, my question to Lou Dobbs is "how many high school students graduated from high school in 1948, 1968, 1988 and 2008?

    The problems with America don't rest on our education system which surely has it's problems. Education is always a target and whipping boy. Everyone and I mean everyone think they know what the problem or problems are and how to fix them. The truth is the critics don't know $hit!

    America's real problems are a result of eight years of George Bush

    April 3, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  6. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    We can't. Teachers are not allowed to teach at all. Everything that they do is written out for them and all they can do is teach to the test. The alleged students have no interest in learning and are only there to socialize and make sure that no else gets an education. Parents have no interest in their children,they just send them to school to get rid of them for a few hours. Parents do not attend conferences because it's too much trouble. Administrators are only interested in power,politics and pay raises for themselves. The graduation rates are only going to get worse as even our schools continue to be out-sourced. We are in plenty of trouble and it is only going to get worse until we bring back something called discipline.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  7. S, Dearborn, Michigan

    Easy Mr. Cafferty- bring in more educated and skilled people from around the Globe to help us learn to be truly Global and compete; or we can sit back and whine and moan like Lou Dobbs about more H1B visas, etc while other countries buy up our banks, our mortgages, our industries, and our real estate. Isn't the definition of craziness to do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different result? What we're doing now isn't working to help compete. So, why not bring the same people competing against us, in other countries, over here and turn the tide??? Don't even think about the low-pay argument- that is such nonsense when it comes to skilled jobs!

    April 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  8. Tom, Avon, Maine, The Heart of Democracy

    We can't.

    The Japanese honor their teachers and education. Unless we do the same, we won't be part of the global economy.

    If we allow a culture in education where bullies torment the gifted, everyone will compete to be a moron. Some of the hero worship of athletes must be spread around to cover the intellectually gifted and folks with other talents.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  9. Ruby Coria, LA. CA.

    Jack, we can't compete because we don't even have the skills to pick tomatoes, if other countrys had the funds that have they would be living in space by now. Kids here are plotting on how to kill teachers and others, who teaches them this?, who's in charge?, oh no one.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  10. Dave Brooklyn, NY

    I don’t understand how this could have happened. I thought our brilliant president who vowed “no child left behind” and who is adored and idolized by 100 million idiots, had that taken care of. I gues that’s just one more disaster the next fool to inhabit the Oval Office will have to deal with. I can’t. I don’t get paid enough to dig us out of this mess.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  11. Bob from Traverse city Michigan

    That's easy Jack We'll import help that understands that they have to be willing to work for the things they want out of life instead of waiting for the government to hand it out. You know like those Mexican people that come here. Before my job vanished I was a construction foreman and was often given high school "graduates" to train who couldn't read a tape rule, add fractions and spelled like "challenged" fourth graders. It seems like the more money we throw at the schools the worse it gets. I think we need to quit worrying about these kids self esteem and start worrying about their future

    April 3, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  12. Anthony Smith

    We can't! Maybe that is why we outsource so many jobs and import too many products. With the internet, iphones, ipods, gaming systems, violence issues at schools, violence at home, and abundance of drugs...is it no wonder the kids are preoccupied and failing? Just a few years ago, all we cared about was drinking beer and getting women in high school. Wow, how things have changed!

    Wildwood Crest, NJ

    April 3, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  13. Geri Britt

    Dummy Down America has been on educators agenda's since 1965 Jack. According to a principal I spoke to a few years ago, who was my seventh grade teacher, 1964 was the last great class that schools graduated particularly in California. Which at that time, California had one of the best educational systems in the country. He blames it on the Teacher's Union, when teachers became blue collar workers rather than professional teachers as they had been before 1964.

    I don't blame it simply on the Unions. I blame a great deal of it on our universities and colleges who apparently are improperly preparing students to be good teachers and adminstrators. Then, you have parents of children now in school who apparently aren't very bright themselves, many of whom didn't finish school either. Moreover, you have state and local governments who have never funded education adequately.

    Lastly, today you have students whose brains probably are wired differently than ours were due to the early submersion into video games, that requires simultaneous action of many skills, thus making the firing of the brain's action different. I suspect that when students are asked to slow their thought processes down to a linear style, as in reading a book or math problem, the brain may have difficulty doing this or the linear process simply is too boring for present day students. Just a theory.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  14. James in Cape Coral, FL

    We can start by putting as much money and attention into education as we do with playing mediator in a middle east civil war. But there is no oil in education, is there.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  15. Keith from Irving TX

    How can the U.S. compete globally when only about half the students in our largest cities graduate from high school?

    We can't.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  16. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    We won't be able to compete as the people coming into the workforce will not have the discipline or the ability to do the jobs. We can fix this by changing the direction and have a required military service for all kids coming out of school regardless of whether they graduate or not, but not in Iraq. Sounds tough but when are we going to stop accepting failure and demand sucess, like Japan. I'd like to see a breakdown of this issue by race and gender. I worked in manufacturing for 26 years and saw the people coming into the workforce over the last 5 years that had high school diplomas and they didn't have the skills to do the jobs, especially in math.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  17. Pat in MIchigan

    We can't compete and as much as I feel compassion for the less fortunate. I also feel resentment for those that don't try to lift themselves up. How many second and third generation welfare recipients do we have in this country? I listen to jail prisoners talking about getting on social security because of a bad back, and they are in jail for breaking and entering. I've worked all my life, paid to social security all my life and the guy with the bad back that didn't stop him from carrying out the big screen tv from someone elses house wants a handout. The real crime is that these young adults aren't forced to stay in school and get a degree.....maybe eliminating consecutive generation welfare would help. If your Dad was on welfare you better get at least a h.s. degree because you aren't eligible.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  18. Robert W. Brooks

    It's getting more and more dificult for the U.S. to compete on a global basis as our educational achievements begin to become second rate. The demands from businesses for electrical and nuclear engineers are beginning to fall on deaf ears as companies have to go overseas to get highly skilled workers to meet the complex requirements for today's high tech and energy needs. To excel in today's market place today's students need to excel in school. "Average" is no longer a passing grade.
    Forest, VA

    April 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  19. Jim A in Vancouver

    They are always screaming they need more money for the schools. If we were not educating so many illegals, the money would go much farther. A teacher friend of mine says that there are enough Mexican children in her class that she has trouble teaching anything. Take them out of these classes and give them just one class; English. When they can read and speak English well enough to participate with the other students then bring them back. That is how they do with foreign exchange students in college. ESL classes are in place in every college in America. The Dept of Education takes millions to operate yet it doesn’t educate even one child. Close them down and send the money to the states.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  20. Nuwan Sam

    You can not compete globally with the current situation. That is why major changes needs to be done in the education system. This is why we as a nation is loosing our grip as the world leader in innovation. Bashing China or India is not going to solve the problem. We need to look our own problems here at home and fix it first.

    Nuwan from Houston, TX

    April 3, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  21. Harry

    We can't compete.

    No doubt, people are screaming from the rooftops, that new schools and systems are needed to train our youth.

    The problem is not the youths, but the adults. Educating children in what is required to be a success in life, begins at home with the parent(s). Many parents make every excuse possible to deflect their own poor performance to such things as poor schools, no time to spend with their children, the teachers, the dangerous community, etc..

    This refusal to take responsibility for one's own actions, are symptomatic to many problems that plague our country.


    April 3, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  22. R. Lopez in South TX

    We cannot compete globally with that kind of drop out rate. The drop out rate is due to poor family structure which then plays out also in the classrooms. The first day my daughter went to high school, she said, "I'm getting out of here as soon as possible" (so she graduated in three years instead of four.) And THAT was in a suburb of a big city so I dare don't even begin to imagine what it is like for our inner city youth. Fix our families and the problem goes away. Period.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  23. Dan from MA


    Simply stated, we can't! We need to put more money into these failing schools while providing safeguards to be sure schools don't abuse the system. These schools need more money so that they can have the supplies and staff necessary for these children to flourish and graduate. The country also needs to address the gang problem and need for high schoolers to get jobs and drop out in order to support the family. Quite simply, the system is broken, and it needs fixing.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  24. Karen - Branson MO

    As a former junior and senior high teacher, the curriculum is so out-dated it's no wonder the kids drop out. We always hear about pre-school and elementary programs and pump money into those, but we are leaving out our pre-teens and teens. The curriculums are like those of the 1960s...this is a new age!

    The worst thing we're doing that I've seen is pushing TOO much on kindergarten and elementary students (thank No Child Left Behind for that) so much so that there's NO really good solid foundation and the kids just get lost when confronted as teens...no success, drop out.

    Secondary school curriculums stifle many teens and prevent getting them started in a direction of interest to them. They all love the arts and practical arts courses that they can relate to in real life, yet more and more those courses are being dropped. How sad.

    Get rid of those stupid standardized tests and create an exit course that reviews after elementary, junior high, then junior or senior year of high school. Not all want to go to college, incorporate more vocational courses for computers, accounting, medical, etc during junior/senior year.

    We're also forgetting that graduates are older now. The norm when I graduated was 16-17, now it's around 19-20. That's a big difference in today's society.

    Bottom line...the high school curriculum is OUTDATED!

    April 3, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  25. Brad, Amarillo TX.

    The Answer is of course that we can't. The evidence is all around us. The Bush administration's (and by extension the religious right) war on Science, and their draconian "No child left behind" has left a generation behind.
    At the end of WW2 we were the world leader in almost every imaginable measurement. Education, economy, military strength. Respect all belonged to the US. Now, through our own actions we are falling behind, Just like what happened to Rome.
    We have to fix all of this if we are to survive as a world power. God may have blessed us... but we are throwing those blessings away.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  26. Mark - Asheville, NC

    Not only do we need all competent students to graduate high school, but as many as possible should finish college. But why do we allow kids to drop out of high school? At age seventeen they are not allowed to vote, buy alcohol or sign contracts, yet they are allowed to do the most seriously damaging thing they can do to themselves, which is drop out of school.

    Why not have a national law that requires competent students to finish high school, no matter how long it takes? Drivers licenses and other rights could be withheld as enforcement measures.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  27. james hoffman, Prescott, MI

    They cannot. The apathy of the American people is evident not only with their lack of interest for their children's education but for their lack of interest in changing being victims of corporate America. It is time that the American people stand up for a revolution and take charge of bettering the standard for themselves and their children. Obama has it right. More should listen.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  28. Dmurphy

    How can the U.S. compete globally when only about half the students in our largest cities graduate from high school you ask?

    That's easy Jack, we can't.

    NY, NY

    April 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  29. june

    We've become a nation of too many hedonists, spending our time eating too much, taking part in spectator sports, and amusing ourselves in every possible way.
    America's success has always depended on innovation. We aren't able to invent and promote new products if our population is uneducated. We'll be unable to compete globally unless we wake up and regain our ambition and imagination.


    Danville, Virginia

    April 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  30. Rosalynd

    Simple, we can't complete globablly with that statistic There is a lot working against students not just in the cities but in suburbia as well. Improvements in education for Ameicas children will require the active participation of parents, the educational system, and investments from government and the private sector. Another key item will be to motivate students to pursue post-secondary education. Shipping jobs overseas is killing any motivation students have to reach higher educational goals like attending universities. Why get the degree(s) if you can not get a job and pay for the investment.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  31. Dan, Washington DC

    Short answer, we can't. One of the big problems facing our educational system is the lack of math and science being taught, but if half our high schoolers can't graduate now, then upping the level of difficulty will only make things worse. I'd say the first step is get rid of the No Child Left Behind policy which does nothing but leave children behind. Then we need to adjust standardized testing so that we're still able to establish some standard of learning without forcing schools to "teach to the test".

    April 3, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  32. Jay

    With the "Leave No Child A Dime" program in full swing, there must be a radical shift in priority as well as our spending.
    The parents need to get more involved, and since our general educators are paid barely above the Poverty level, the government could could aid in that area as well. Lets re-direct some efforts...invest more quality time to prove we have pride in our country, children, and future, we can do it.

    >>> Jay (Fridley, Minnesota)

    April 3, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  33. Terry from North Carolina

    When corporate America complains they cant find good entry level people to employ, what does that tell us ? The young people have a dim outlook on the future and because of this they have given up. Think about what they are looking forward to. Cant afford a home or a place to live on their own, cant afford to fill their gas tank if they are lucky enough to afford a car, and the possibility of the draft coming back and being sent to IRAQ. Hows that for a bright future ?

    April 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  34. Boureguard McKinney, Texas

    I guess we have to ask why on each case they don't finish high school. You can't lump all of them into one basket it isn't fair. Some don't or won't study. Some get pregnant. Some get hooked on dope or alcohol Some die. Some should have never been allowed to move forward to the next grade because they didn't qualify for the next grade and the school system set them up for failure by moving them on. I think that each year twice a year we need a standardized test that each student is made to take. If they pass it great. If not lets find out what they were deficient in and schedule extra education time in study hall or after school to help them. If we do that and they still don't pass then we have done our best. Not everyone can graduate high school. It is just the way it is. Even with a high school education it does not mean that a child will become a productive member of society or find a job or a job they are good at. An education is a tool just like a hoe or a screw driver or a wrench. Even though you have the tool it does not mean you are able to fix the problem or have the desire to do it. It simply means you had the equipment to do it.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  35. Julia Hays from Pitman, NJ

    Fix the broken education system. Give schools the money that they need. Inner city schools need extra funding for books, teachers and after-school programs. Plus we need to teach sex ed instead of abstinence-only - then we might not have so many young, pregnant soon-to-be-mothers dropping out to give birth.

    -Julia Hays from Pitman, NJ

    April 3, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  36. Brad in Oregon

    Plain and simple: You can't!

    April 3, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  37. Michael in Lorton, Virginia

    The United States has recently spent billions of dollars on the Iraq war. No nation has ever borrowed that amount and devoted it largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and education. The US must make their choice; we cannot have both.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  38. Adam, LV, NV

    We can't... When are people going to learn that education is the most important thing for us. Problem is there is no short term fix. We need to pay teachers more money, make learning interresting, and make it affordable.

    Most of all, we need to stop brining people in on work visas. If there were actually jobs availible for people with an education, more people would care. Right now so many companies are brining in people on HB-1 and HB-2 visas that there is no point to being an educated person. Our companies are outsourcing jobs in our own country by brining people in to fill them.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  39. Bob L. Philadelphia, PA

    As a public high school teacher in Philadelphia, I see what seems like hopelessness in urban education. There are too many social problems in our schools, amongst our diverse population. I believe students should be placed in academic tracks so that we can meet their needs.

    Teachers should not have to go through 7-miles of red tape to send a student to a disciplinary school. It takes almost 3 months to remove a student for a school and have him/her sent to where his/her needs can be met. Think about what damage has been done by that time.

    Parents need to get involved. Classes should be shorter because students are becoming bored, overworked, and overloaded after 48 minutes of class. Our students are sitting in the same class for 60 minutes for 183 school days.

    Vote in Hillary Clinton for President. She wants to get rid of NCLB and give incentives to companies who keep American jobs here.

    Finally, train students in careers that will likely exist when they leave high school if Obama and McCain are elected President. In other words, teach them Spanish, Indian, and Chinese because that is where their jobs will be.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  40. Mike S., New Orleans, Louisiana

    It's a free country, and if somebody doesn't want to finish high school, that's their decision. All they need to do is have some babies and the system will support them. I don't see what the problem is.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  41. Michael Houston, TX


    As a former elementary science teacher from inner city Houston, I can tell you that the biggest problem with our schools is that the teachers themselves seem to need an education! I remember being required to explain to teachers the scientific method, what certain scientific tools were (such as a graduated cylinder, spring scale, etc.), and how to condudct experiments in the classroom properly. If anyone wants to know why America is losing the globalization war while our jobs disappear and dollar value decreases, we only need to look at ourselves to realize that we have done a terrible job at making the teaching profession attractive to the best and brightest among us.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  42. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    When only about half the students in our largest cities graduate from high school, I say focus on the other half who do graduate by insuring them a higher education with financial support. That would put them in a position to compete globally and bring forth generations to follow. Many countries that are turning out students who are competitive globally have many adversities they must face to achieve an education compared to our children, but the difference is they want it.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  43. Jack K. Fort Myers, FL

    From curriculum to school district leadership–every state, county, and city school system is vastly different. Funding streams are related to need–but taxpayers in the system. School Board oversight is sometimes too tight–sometimes to weak–and the requirements for board members are not very specific to the needs of the system.

    We have a vast, ineffective system–with multiple redundancy. Vast sums of taxpayer dollars are expended with little correlation of the final product quality (a diploma wielding college bound senior).

    Our public schools need serious help–yesterday. Establishment of uniform criteria and regional (multi-state) privitization would improve the system.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  44. Joan

    I do not have an answer, but I know a man who does, watching the Chris Matthews college tour yesterday, with Barack Obama – it is a subject he really wants to address and some of his solutions sound good to me.
    Joan North Carolina

    April 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  45. Joshua P. at North Carolina State University

    Jack today my State government class got into a heated debate today over the fact that varsity sports don't add much education wise to our school but they're getting all the money and every student was willing to support two horrible team. While school library only has 7 square feet of study room for each of the 32,000 students and is struggling to gain money to have 9 square foot of space for an eventual class of 40,000 where as down the road at our rival school they have 20 square feet of space for the 28,000 and are growing to 30,000. So what's it gonna take to fix our school? A miracle a huge miracle.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  46. Andy, PA

    That's obvious Jack. We can't. In general, US students aren't hungry for realistic success. They dream of making it rich by becoming celebrities ( and will do some incredibly degrading things to achieve pseudo-celebrity). There are only so many professional atheletes, singers, and reality TV gigs. Few will make this dream. But that's who they are encouraged by our society to adopt as role models; and what great role models – in and out of jails and rehab!

    April 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  47. Craig

    Jack, Given that "competing globally" is code for; working for minumum wage or less, what difference does it make if they graduate or not? The middle class has been outsourced.
    Hiram Rapids, Oh.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  48. Robert H Simonsen

    We cannot compete globally. Why do we allow "children" ages 15-16 to make an adult decision to leave school? They not only ruin their own lives but harm the nation and impose a huge burden on taxpayers. How is the US military able to take underachievers and educate them? It can be done. A high school education, not GED, should be mandatory. No more excuses.

    Robert Simonsen
    Houston, TX

    April 3, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  49. Aaron B.; Champaign, IL

    A year ago, my then 14-year-old cousin moved from inner city Chicago to live with my parents in a norther suburb, and attend school there. Her reading level, at the time, was that of a sixth grader... 'nuff said.

    April 3, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  50. Nancy, Cunningham, TN

    The future of the U. S. will depend on the education our youth is getting. Our children's education and future hasn't gotten a boost from the "No child left behind." Starting children in school at an earlier age than kindergarten is not the answer either. In the 50's before President Kennedy's speech about schools ramping up studies in Science and Math, the schools were doing a pretty good job of doing that anyway. The key to the success of those years of education was not worrying about leaving a child behind, but by dividing the classrooms up and placing the ones that scored the highest on the achievement test together, next best in a class together and so on. The students could learn at the same pace and teachers did not have to bore the gifted by lagging and did not fail the struggling if she moved on. Everyone in the class was on the same level. Once a child got to high school, the problem was solved. A student struggling with Math would not sign up for a Chemistry or Physics class. We then graduated students ready to become engineers and others that needed and wanted to go to a technical school and learn a trade. See there problem solved.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  51. John from Carlsbad


    They CAN NOT! That is the problem. We went off to globalism and didn't change our educational system to make our people competitive in this new market.

    We have more good people leaving the system and all the dead wood staying because the system is so broken. This needs to be issue #1 moving forward or it will spell our demise. The educational system is failing an entire generation. They "graduate" but they have absolutely no skills to offer the market. Something needs to be done or we will be producing an entire generation of lemmings, jail inmates and welfare recipients.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  52. David Kinney from Lexington, NC

    Does our workforce and ability to remain competitive in the world market depend on over half of students in our largest cities graduating from high school? No. Our society has never had a time when the entire workforce had at least a high school education. Let's face it ... everyone's child will not grow up to be President, CEO, ... or even manager. There is benefit and pride in doing a job that many Americans consider beneath them. We need to stop importing labor to cover menial jobs and allow those students who cannot perform academically to embrace jobs they are capable of doing. We have mysteriously embraced the concept that every child needs a high school education so that our country can compete globally. As bad as it sounds ... it isn't true and never has been.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  53. Don Blue Springs, Missouri

    I would think that it would be terrible that less than half the kids graduate from high school, but since our jobs are all moving to other countries then they probably wont need a diploma to get the ones left. These problems are becoming a part of our culture and we can't afford to think this nonsense that electing another politician will save this country, education is about as basic as it gets, if we can't do that right then we deserve our fate.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  54. Carol c.

    How to deal with drop-out? Here's an idea. Sen. Obama has suggested helping college students with their tuition but they would have to do community service.

    It is a proven that some of these drop-out students simply have no suport at home. Perhaps parents working two jobs to put food on the table. What about having these young people be required to do some fun tutoring. Small groups of 3 or 4 allowing them to read and praise them and show them what they are capable of accomplishing if they apply themselves. It has been done in several states where retired people have become involved and inspired the hard to reach students by giving them extra attention.

    Face it, Jack–not every student is meant for college. But there are jobs they can train for that schools are not providing–food service, health service, working with animals. Put some of these courses in place for them with enough of the three R-s for them to be productive citizens. Do you use algebra?? I sure don't!

    Knoxville, TN

    April 3, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  55. C. Piedmont, Newport Beach, R.I.

    . . . .Senator Obama has exeptional organizational capabilities. He
    will not only repair the educational systems throughout the country, but
    the infrastructures of counties throughout America, which have been
    abandoned and left to crumble because of the carelessness and incompetence of past administrations.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  56. Dan, NY

    Dear Jack,

    The low rate of graduation in this country is alarming, but the more alarming issue is the level of education reflected by those who do graduate. Far too many of them are functionally illiterate. I think the effort to get more students to get diplomas is wasted if that diploma doesn't represent something valuable. It is not just the dropouts who cannot compete in the global marketplace, it is the graduates as well. I wonder if the dropout rate would decline if the quality of the education itself went up.

    Dan NY

    April 3, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  57. Sandra from Texas

    Short answer. We can't.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  58. Red Dog from ND but now in Floida

    You should be asking "What is wrong with the republicans failed no child left behind policy?"
    The education sysytem is based upon old outdated modes. it needs to be revamped to better reflect what is needed for America and its younger generation. We baby boomers are the last generation that the worn out tradition methods worked and they barely worked for us. I do not have any answers, but do know that from experience as a parent and student the traditional high school settings are/were not enough to keep me or my son in school. At sixteen, seventeen, young adults are not going to listen to some one who wants to treat them like some ignorant child who needs to be spoon fed. That is what the republicans have created with the NCLB plan.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  59. Bill, Quarryville, PA

    Jack I don't think we can. This is a problem that has been let go for too long. I think this helps contribute to our drug problem and our jail population problem. We cannot keep throwing money at this problem without a good program to solve it. We need more educated people than ever before if we want to compete in the world today. If we address this problem in the proper way we will not only have more educated people, but I think we also will see a significant drop in our crime rate.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm |

    Jack, Thank you for putting education in the scope of the country, away from Reverend Wright, Iraq, Bosnia or bowling. How can we expect to compete in education with the agenda for political discuss set on irrelevant issues. Have you ever heard any of the politicians talk about education in serious terms. It is a reflection of the mundane and unacceptable level that all those who set the political agenda have degenerated to. I dread what will happen as we age, because more than a global competition, what this means is a dearth in Doctors, Nurses and other care givers struggling under a president with a tenth grade education and congress with an average of eight grade education. We are simply headed back to the stone age.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  61. Jerry, Fayetteville Tennessee

    We may still be able to compete globally with a burden like that, but until more parents take an active role in their children's welfare and education, that statistic isn't going to change. Increasing the number of young people that contribute to society rather than trouble it would do much more for the country than just increase our ability to compete globally.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  62. Leevaughn Brown

    We have to compete from behind, and play catch up.

    It's ironic, Rev. Wright preaches in one of those cities, yet we ask those very people who the system fails to be patriotic and ignore the problems around them and make Iraquis freedom their priority. With that said.

    We should throw that high tech stuff out of elementry schools and get back to the basics.

    Then dust off the ole' paddle and teach!

    I know some will freak out over that, but sometimes there is no cure like a good old fashion remedy.

    Let's take care of our kids first, then worry about the globe.
    Fix one and the other will fix its self in time.
    Cinti, Ohio

    April 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  63. mitchell martin ark.

    another bush pet project."git 'er done",but, when we get to the halfway point,[50% of "no child left behind"],"let's stop and have a beer or two,get drunk,wind up at the local pub,get into fights we can't win[cuz' we're drunk],and we'll start another project tomorrow,cuz' this one's too hard to finish,when we're hung over."

    April 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  64. Eugene in Northern California

    Jack, we can't and we won't compete. Kid say why graduate, from high school, when all the entry level jobs have been sucked up, by illegal aliens. Our pandering government should be ashamed, of our national educational system along, with a host, of other issues. It's an inexcusable disgrace. We've lost an entire generation already. I hope voters remember this come November and refuse, to vote, for ANY incumbant candidates.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  65. Katiec Pekin, IL

    They cannot. Our education system is totally broken.
    With the unjustified wages and perks the administration
    of these schools receive, unqualified teachers,
    tenures protecting these unqualified teachers,
    ridiculous requirements issued by our government,
    and unwise spending by the schools theirselves, we
    have a mess.
    We cannot afford the demands being made by the
    schools that increase our property taxes. Some other
    source of funding has to be implemented.
    We need to get back to teaching the basics, with
    attention paid to technology etc. We do not need
    swimming pools etc at our schools,
    Another thought. I realize some teachers are underpaid,
    and this should be addressed, but keep in mind that
    their work year is 180 days. So many times our
    tax increases go to salaries rather than bettering our

    April 3, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  66. Les Young Oklahoma

    Jack being located in rural Oklahoma I can't say I am a expert at urban education, but I think we have show the advantages of getting a education and convince the young people that education has their interest at heart. My mother was a school teacher in Texas for forty years and her favorite saying was you can do what you think you can do.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  67. Allen L Wenger

    How can that be, after 7 years of "no child left behind". Could it be that this was just a slogan? and not really an attempt to fix our education system?

    April 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  68. Pete from Boston


    What percentage of teens graduate from high school in China? in India?
    in Indonesia? in Saudi Arabia? It is not just education – it is education in the context of freedom and opportunities for economic advancement. If we were willing to run our economy on slave labor or pay pennies per hour or had tons of oil money, skilled and talented labor would be less central and the role of education would be less. So the issue is opportunity within the US, which opportunities will increase our competitive advantage internationally.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  69. Bruce St Paul MN

    We can't. Things must change. But we are off course in many different ways. School funding through property tax referendums leaves inner city schools lagging in funds, comparatively. School funding overall is not what it needs to be. State college systems have to be affordable in all states. And of course, there is the cultural component. How important is education in each family? How prepared are students when they get to school? We have to do a much better job of selling the value of education to teens. It is hard to get them to look beyond today to prepare for unspecified rewards in the unkown future. Schools, parents, and the students themselves have to have expectations of academic success. Good luck to us.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  70. Chuck in Eugene Oregon


    It is truly a sad state that our education is in. There is no way we can compete globally or internally when so many students are dropping out. Although I do believe teachers do have some responsibility, parents hold a much greater responsibility for the failure of our education system. When I was growing up my parents were very active in my studies, asking questions, checking my school work, reviewing my studies with me for mid term and final exams (too many areas of involvement to mention in here. The point is that in todays society parents have turned their back, for many reason... lack of understanding... lack of desire... too tired... all the excuses my parents could have used but never did. (by the way both my parents worked). And there was not TV or outside time or fun time of any kind until the home work assignments were completed. What they did not understand they called the teachers/school directly for more explaination. Today parents just say figure it out for yourself, go watch tv, play your games, or go away or what ever. Parents need to trun off the TV, shut down the video games and computers and spend more time with their kids when it comes to their education. Parents depend on the school system to be the parent, teacher, mentor, advisor and communicator, where as they should be all those things and a lot more.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  71. Kerry in Fort Worth, Texas

    As a former teacher in a poor rural district I was always alarmed at the drop out rate, but the figures from Powell's study are just plain shocking! Frankly we can't compete on the world stage with so many failing in our school systems, not just the students but all involved are guilty. Maybe that is why the State Department hands out so many work Visa's to those than gain educations in foreign lands.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  72. Ralph at NYC

    Jack, many college graduates are unable to find find jobs in this country. Perhaps our answer to the needs of education should be supplying a system where all can receive proper learning while improving the economy and keeping jobs here so that those that do graduate have the ability to make use of what they learn.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  73. Kandi from Virginia

    We can't, which is the main reason why we need to exert more time, energy, and finances into our own country. The economy directly effects education. How much sense does it take to figure out why so many kids are dropping out of school? They can't all be bad seeds. The lack of funding and the effects of "scores and scores of children left behind" have trickled down and kids aren't prepared for graduation, much less continued education, and competing globally? No such luck, Jack!

    April 3, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  74. Richard Sternagel

    If you must ask the question,you must know the answer! We can't compete globally with such low rate of graduation!

    April 3, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  75. Ken Swipies

    If the schools would put more of their resources into teaching science, math, reading, etc., instead of "tolerance" education, or sex education, etc., and actually hire teachers that can teach, not just be there to push liberal propaganda, and collect a paycheck, things would change.

    Then too, we have a generation, or two, of parents who have been taught that it isn't their responsibility.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  76. Mary Johnson

    Jack; The U.S. cannot compete in the global economy with such a catastrophic graduation rate. and this situation has been upon us for some time now. What ever happened to "No Child Left Behind" may I ask you know who !!! ie King George.
    back to basics is necessary. both in re: to education itself and the administration of that education. Children are not in a position to make the major decision re: dropping out of hight school. Yes !! They ARE children. Sad that our nation has not come to the conclusion that high school age people should not be allowed to drop out. Period.
    Of course, we all realise that education only works when the three legged stool has all three legs. ie Parents, child and educators all in the same camp and pushing hard. Until that happens we won't see any improvement in drop out rates in the inner cities. Sad but true.
    Our country is sliding into the pit.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  77. Martin (La Paz, Bolivia)

    It would help if the most powerful man in the world was a role model for a good education. If even he cannot string together simple sentences, and then finds his deficiencies amusing, what do you expect?
    At least this time, elect someone who can demonstrate that an adequate education is a help in international trade (and diplomacy).

    April 3, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  78. Teddie

    That is why we keep loosing jobs to the overseas markets. Our kids are too busy jacking around aftere school instead of doing their studies first and then get to play and then their parents are too busy trying to keep up with the Jones and not being home to teach the kids. This no child left behind is a complete joke like the person who started it.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  79. Ronald

    Sadly, too many politicians just don't see this as priority. Maybe John Kerry was right when he failed to deliver his joke properly several years ago . . . someone has to go to Iraq.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  80. Esther Cuyahoga Falls Ohio


    I been out of school this year for 33 years. they taught me to read and right and do math. They do not teach anymore the things i truely loved sewing cooking and even child growth and developement.
    Too busy trying to please everyone and leaving everyone behind in the process.
    Teacher raising the children and trying to teach them english not a good combination too complicated.
    Teach a man to fish and you feed him for his life. Teach them all the things important to life not passing a test.
    we have an ID TEN T PROBLEM (id10t=idiot)
    We leave them in front of the TV and computer for too long and Mom isn't there to say stop cause she got a job to keep up with the jones or buy needless stuff from walmart. we a sick country our legacy to our children debt and stupid and blinded by our vanity.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  81. George Wilson

    Jack, if you haven't heard yet about the downturn in the entire country over education, employment, health care, housing, and many other things that are dragging our country into a spiraling downward motion, then where have you been? The ones of us who live in these cities have known it for at least 7 years now. We didn't just to bed last night, and awaken to the way we are in today. It just so happens that in the urban areas of our larger cities is where most of the poor, and needy live. Also the population is made of mostly minorities who are having trouble taking care of their families, and very little time to worry about schooling. These people are hanging on by a very thin thread. Now people in the media, and in the government , you know, the upper muckeymucks, tell us that all we need to do is just go to school, get an education, and we can compete for the jobs that are available. It's not that simple. Kids can't learn when they are hungry, or having a hard time at home. Neither can you, or anyone else, but you wouldn't know because you have never been in our shoes. It needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed today, not tomorrow, or another seven years from now as all of the rosy pictures that are painted for us in speeches just to get our votes imply. Do something now, not tomorrow !!!!!!!!!.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  82. Richard

    As a Life Long resident of Syracuse, NY I have seen young Black Kids beaten up because they want to learn. They have the drive and desire to learn more and more. But other Blacks beat them up becaue they are "trying to be white". Education is the great equalizer and as long as our Inner Cities ignore Education and beat up those who want to learn there will never be equality.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  83. earl illingsworth

    This country is not worried about competing globally ,were still years ahead of most, or all countries ,even with our drop-out rate. It's a system designed for failure, and why would I make such an assinine statement like that? Remember not to long ago a young girl who enlisted in the army form Oklahoma. She ended up driving a truck over a road-side bomb in Iraq. She was one of the fortunate ones to survive, and was brought back stateside, to a "Hero's Welcome", rightfully so. Her name was Jessica and before she enlisted worked at a local "Walmart", in her small community. When a reporter asked her why she enlisted, her only response was a better job, and a shot at a future, which was unattainable with her education. Read between the lines, folks!!!

    April 3, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  84. kb from Iowa

    As a former teacher, I feel I have the right to say our system is broken. We're still teaching school like it's the 1950' s to kids living in the year 2008. We need to move away from a system based on grade levels and put together a system based on objectives and outcomes, then present it to students in a way that is more relevant to their times. My 10 year old learned more from the 2 hour history channel show about the Revolutionary War than it took her teacher 4 weeks to cover in her book. Why? Because my 10 year old imports information in a much different way than kids did 50 years ago.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  85. Jay - Atlanta

    It can't compete. And what's worse, all these non- contributing "citizens" feel themselves fully entitled to consume at will. And even their parents think some magic bullet is going to be discovered to save their economic bacon. It's the very meaning of ignorance, and what can we expect but ignorance from a nation of drop outs?

    April 3, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  86. Andre / Florida

    This is another example of the racial divide that America is afraid to honestly discuss. If these were predominately white kids ( not graduating) there would be a public outcry.

    Here's the problem with racism, it causes people not to see the obvious. Not only can we not compete globally with this continued neglect of our own children. But the cure for Cancer, or AIDS is probably locked in the mind of an untrained young person who is from an urban area and happens to have black or brown skin.

    If this comment makes you uncomfortable or if you disagree that's a good thing. Without anger, or bitterness or self righteousness, express your opinion.

    I believe it's true, we can make this race thing go away if we talk to one another with Honesty and LOVE.

    Miami, Florida

    April 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  87. Terry in Hanover, VA

    Why should kids value education? They see a President who is functionally illiterate and proud of it. Sure, he finished college but then his family's rich and well-connected. If anyone has lowered the value of education in this country it's W. If anyone has destroyed the hopes for a bright future for our children, it's George "Wage War and Mortgage the Future" Bush.

    And compete globally with what? We have services to sell but little in the way of manufactured goods. The U.S. has fast become the world's greatest consumer of goods from other countries. Back when the U.S. manufactured most of its products, jobs were plentiful and kids stayed in school or learned a trade at the Jobs Corps. or in VoTech. Without secure jobs paying living wages, what hope do kids have?

    April 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  88. Bill in St. Cloud, FL

    Simple – we can't. This is just another example of the deterioration of the American family and the societal values that made us strong.
    Hollywood, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft will continue to flourish – the final three with a preponderence of foreign nationals on the payroll.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  89. Bonnie/Lincoln Park, NJ

    Jack, of course, the answer is we can't. It has always been my belief that giving Americans a decent education would help solve so many of our problems including our diminishing ability to compete globally. By not doing so we breed racism, violence, joblessness and a bulging (and ever increasing) prison population. In New Jersey, as in many other states I am sure, we are in a budget crisis and there is no money for education, but yet we have over 600 school superintendents making over $100,000 annually, some with state owned vehicles and most with full staffs. Thankfully, I have a high school diploma but no matter how I do the math on that equation, I am not coming out with the correct answer.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  90. Paulette Dallas,PA

    Obviously the Bush plan certainly has left many children behind. These urban drop outs have a dismal future to look toward. What's the best job they can get? Working at McDonalds or Burger King? It's much easier for them to drop out,join gangs, sell drugs and stay home with their welfare parents and peer friends. The entire education system needs to be revamped and these inner city kids need to have hope. You'd have to start gradually but you'd have to be dedicated to the job and demonstrate success and follow through.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  91. Greg - Indiana

    If schools want to compete globally we simply need to recruit smarter kids. The bottom line, the U.S. has a much more open society and gives more opportunities to people who would not have them elsewhere. want an apples to apples comparison, compare are top 5 percent to everyone elses top 5. I'll take our every day

    April 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  92. Josh from Cleveland

    The issue occurring in our urban schools should not shock many. Politicians will not admit, but the reason for the poor graduation rates isn't a systematic issue, it is a people issue. How many of our urban youth come from single parent homes? How many of our urban youth have someone at home holding the individual child accountable for their school work? I could go on with similar questions, but until the family is put back together in the inner city, the current trend will only continue.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  93. Johnny 5 in Oak Lawn, IL

    We can't compete, Jack. How about the fact that health care costs are now about 30% of the average persons and companys cost. We cannot compete with third world countries that have low cost health care, or no cost health care. How about the fact that the average student that takes out college student loans takes 9 years to pay it back. We cannot compete with third world countries that have free education. The richest country in the world, and we can't figure out how to pay to educate our kids. Shame on us.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  94. Terry From California

    It sure does appear that every child is being left behind. Has anybody told President Bush?

    April 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  95. lorraine

    On the school issue if the U.S. would stop sending money over seas and would start investing in our education and schools are
    more affordable to the middle class and poor. There also is alot of peer pressure on kids in school, such as statusquo.
    New Jersey

    April 3, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  96. alexa, Lovettsville, Va

    Education begins at home. When the child fails the parent(s) have failed. Children these days don't know what a consequence is. I can't imagine coming home with a D or F on my report card when I was in school let alone tell my parents I was dropping out, can you? It simply wasn't an option.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  97. Tyne from Colorado

    I just graduated from highschool a year ago(long time right?) and my class was the largest graduating class from my school in a while. The school system believes that if they add more classes and class time, while eliminating physical education and the arts, we can improve our testing scores. Doesn't seem to be working. Instead we have lower scores, higher drop out rates, and students that have no clue what's going on around the world. What's so wrong with teaching students another language in elementary school, having students read about other countries and their history, allowing students to participate in the arts, and showing students how this information can be important to them? Instead we force students to take exams to raise money for their school and when they fail, they are told that they are "below average" and recieve no help to improve their education. For these students, the only escape is dropping out. I guess I was one of the lucky ones.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  98. roger dowdle lockhart, tx

    There will be no improvement in the education system until incompetent teachers are removed from the system. Just paying them higher salaries won't do the trick because then you will have highly paid incopetents! This is not to say that all teachers are poor, but the unions resist any weeding process. I remember here in tx. in the 80's when the tabs test was being put in place, and the requirement for teachers to pass the 12th grade (graduating level) test, the teachers union threatened to go on strike in order to prevent it. How can you be expected to teach subjects you can't even pass?? Reward the better teachers, but get the bad ones out. Parents also have to be involved in the school system, but good luck on that!

    April 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  99. Velle In Halifax

    Reinstitute TEACHING in the schools! Collect ALL cell-phones, PDAs, iPods and such crap at the doors and let'em pick 'em up on the way out the doors. Pay teachers a salary that inspires their best efforts. Stop this "social-club" atmosphere. Expel and arrest the bullys, drug dealers, addicts and other criminals. Create REAL curriculums that FIT the World the grads will face. And hand the dropouts, troublemakers and deadheads a shovel and put them to public works projects.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  100. April in texas

    Well the cost of living is so high and the college tuition is so high that those such as myself middle income can not afford to send our children to college any longer. Therefore we are at a stalemate because those cant get the education to compete in a job market that used to train their employees for the jobs. Now you need both which you can no longer get. I mean you cant get a job without experience and you cant get experience without a job..

    April in Austin Texas
    Obama 08

    April 3, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  101. dennis north carolina

    we can not compete. In twenty years, we will not be a 3rd world country but a 4th world country and with in 50 yrs we will have new rulers from the next great society from the out side like china. I will be dead but my grand childern and their children will suffer. who can we blame are as follows: 1. the high court system, 2. the greedy and big business, 3. the goverment on all levels, 4. the school officals, 5. the teachers, 5. the parents who should act as parents not as breeders. we could correct this but do we have the will to take the steps that are needed.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  102. Vinnie Vino

    It's time to make high school a part time job for the students. They get rewarded for grades and behavior to use for college or a car. The better they do the bigger the reward...

    C.I., New York

    April 3, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  103. Jarrett, Los Angeles

    Finally, a good question Jack. They can't. Asian schools are in session six days a week.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  104. Chryssa

    We can't compete. We're hardly benchwarmers anymore. Too many urban youth grow up with uneducated parents and say to themselves "Mom didn't go to college, and we got by, so I'll be fine." Their standards are so ridiculously low they don't even see the point in getting an education. Add to that the astronomical price tag of college, and you're setting up an entire country for failure.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  105. James S. Lenon - TN

    We can begin to compete locally if we accept the cold hard facts that many of our little darlings are never going to be more than minimally literate and that we need to concentrate our education resources on the students who are hungry to and capable of learning.

    Stop teaching self esteem and grade students in the early grades so that they can be properly tracked. Scrap athletics – let the franchises fund their own training camps- and buy textboks and computers for the students who come to school every day to learn. Stop spending to eduducate Mexico's children.
    Bring back vocational programs and withold drivers licenses until our children earn a vocational or academic diploma and spend two-three years in national service of some sort.
    Frankly, I don't think we can make the hard choices that will keep us competitive. But we know that India, China, Japan, and even Europe's nations have already made the hard choices we face.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  106. Chryssa

    We can’t compete. We’re hardly benchwarmers anymore. Too many urban youth grow up with uneducated parents and say to themselves “Mom didn’t go to college, and we got by, so I’ll be fine.” Their standards are so ridiculously low they don’t even see the point in getting an education. Add to that the astronomical price tag of college, and you’re setting up an entire country for failure.

    Boise, Idaho

    April 3, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  107. Raul from KY

    We can't. If all highschool's students think they have agood chance of making it in sports or music, I got an easy answer. NO. If the odds are not small enough to see this, maybe they are not sufficiently smart to make them in those fields anyways.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  108. EBC

    John McCain then SEN. HILLARY CLINTON


    April 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  109. Kathy/ Marietta GA

    We have to start at the top. We have to stop electing presidents who tell students that even "C" students can become president. The footnote to that is you would have to be rich and buy your way out of prestigous institutions. Also the father would have to be an ex president and ex CIA, who has dirt on people to force them to support their campaign. Also it does not help to have the president always taking pictures with persons in fifth grade or less and reading My Pet Goat.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  110. CJ in Roanoke, VA

    We cannot complete globally Jack. We are the dumbest people in the industrialized world and the math and science test scores prove it. A country that produces dumb people who's only talent is acting cool or looking cool is destined for third world status. That's why the most technical jobs are being done by foreigners.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  111. tonyh

    Good question! I as a teacher have no answer to that, since our educational system is a mess. My kid is in an ESOL class (English for Students Of another Language), since he arrived from Cuba seven months ago, and I found out that they don't have a textbook to learn from. It is the will of the teacher, which, by the way, is terrible. I called the ESOL department and the head of the department told me she follows instructions from the Florida State Department of Education. Go figure!

    April 3, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  112. Raul from KY

    It is the American culture. People that rewarded by they sacrifice and education are not as popular as those that made money the easy way. I hope that we change this because thesevstatistic are embarrasing

    April 3, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  113. betty whitney

    My least favorite pick is John McCain and Hillary Clinton, i.e. both of them in a tie. I'd like to know where Gallup takes these polls and who they poll because I don't think they are valid. Everyone I know is a supporter or soon to be supporter of Barack Obama and that includes independents and even a Republican or two.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  114. Greg from Mechanicsburg, PA

    The American family is in crisis, Jack and we need to help them. I taught inner city kids in Orlando, Florida and over half of the kids came from broken families. Several were being raised by single moms who had their hands full trying to support several children. Some of the kids had parents that were out of work and couldn't find jobs. Some of the kids' fathers were in jail. How can you expect a kid to care about school when his or her family is in ruins?

    April 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  115. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    There are at least three inter-related factors:

    1. The cultural 'ringworm'

    As affluent people leave the central city, the slums grow larger, like a scaly ringworm. With affluence goes funding as well as the better teachers.

    2. morale

    These city kids see no future. Generations of their families are mired in the same area.

    3. crime and drugs.

    Young people see a greater income froom selling drugs than working 9 to 5.

    You don't learn 'street smarts' in school.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  116. William Sanford, NC

    Our graduating students in the future will be mentally handicapped when it comes to competing globally because competition has been taken out of the classroom and emphasized on the basketball courts and football fields. Teachers have become apathetic to failing students because of so much governmental intervention. If you want to gaze into the future of this country all you have to do is read Darwin's "Origin of Species", that is, if you stayed in school long enough to learn to read.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  117. dan in mass

    Teachers can only teach the willing. Education begins at birth not first grade. If we are falling behind globally it is because of what happens at home not in school. Teachers do their jobs, parent often don't.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  118. Malachi from Drexel Hill, PA

    Good old George Bush has taken so much money away from children going to college and has taken back so much money from grades k-12 that our education system is crumbling. Remember he has to go after Oil in Iraq, which is more important than our American children.

    Thanks George and McCain you guys really have your priorities are definitely in the right place. I hope it was worth it.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  119. Karl in SF, CA

    We need to bring our education system back to the level of the 1950's and 60's when most kids graduated and had actually learned something. To do that we need to get off our wallets and put the proper amount of money into it instead of cutting it another 10% like her in California. After decades of cutting the funds we have nothing left but a skeleton of a school system and kids turning into criminals instead of college graduates.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  120. Ann, Newton, New Jersey

    Bring back the good old-fashioned qualified school teachers of my generatiion who were there to teach and give of their time after school to help a child who needed extra help. Have teacher conferences with the parents, when needed, and not once a year. Today, too many teachers wonder how much longer it would be until three o'clock comes and they could leave. Whatever happened to History and Geography?

    April 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  121. Tom from Little Rhody

    It's spelled No Child Left Behind. The schools are teaching to George's Test, instead of what they need, and nobody fails; there are no consequences for actions, good or bad. In India and China, they find the brightest kids and get them the best education they can. In the US you can't even identify them. Portfolios, standardized tests, and proficiency, instead of grades that measure your progress. Thanks George.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  122. Jim from Va.

    After 8 years of Bush, neither of the candidates will be able to fix this mess. We need Moses. Maybe he can lead us out of captivity from big business that ole George has put us all in.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  123. Ryan, Champaign IL

    How about creating a new "don't study abroad" program. We can send the students to 3rd world countries so that they might appreciate what the U.S. has to offer, and what they are throwing away along with their educations.

    Our newest generation is in serious trouble, and it's going to take real leadership to stop the spiral.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  124. john marlton, nj

    And how many of those graduates can actually read, write or do math !!

    April 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  125. C.Dudley-Palmdale, CA

    This is a serious problem. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer but we all forget about our future generations. I grew up as a child in the 50's when this country had just overcome a terrible war and had an appreciation for the future generations. Our schools were newer, cleaner and we learned about good citizenship as well as education. These days our teachers need more respect and a professional salary to attract the best in our society to teach our young. There is nothing so effective to each of our lives as a Teacher with creativity and love of learning to get through to our kids and teach THEM self-esteem and developing curiousity about the world. What ever will happen to those nearly 50% who got lost along the way?

    April 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  126. christine

    Jack, they can't. The problem is rooted deeper than the school system, it is the general degradation of society that is the problem.
    Today's kids have shallow values and shallower role models. They want everything handed to them without having to work for it.

    Just look at what young people are watching and listening to and are being influenced by. The empty-headed socialites and pop stars that they hold in such high esteem and try so hard to emulate have more influence on them than parents and teachers have. Society as a whole needs to fix itself if young people are expected to compete on a global scale. The future looks grim indeed.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  127. sandy in Ohio

    Jack, I'm certain U.S. kids are just as bright as those in other countries but parents and schools are failing them. A couple of years ago my husband and I attended grandparenys day at several of our grandchildrens public school. The kindergarteners had no desks or chairs and learned by sitting on the floor or wandering around while the teacher tried to teach. The sixth graders had stories about themselves, that they had written, posted around the room. My own grandaughter's was full of mistakes and lacked complete sentences and the handwriting was barely legiblle. When I asked the teacher why this was the case, she said everyone's work was displayed because everyone needed to have a sense of worth. They didn't give grades at this school for the same reason, instead everyone was just given a written "cheerleading" report every six weeks. Now this grandaughter is in college and can't understand why her professors pick on her by rejecting her work. We need to get back to giving kids an education and let the parents help with their sense of worth.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  128. Ralph

    We can't. Stop government funding for finding high school students jobs (they then quit school), limit access to GED's (as soon as they are 16 they get them and quit school), require a high school diploma to get into a community college (you only have to be 18 now), allow employers to require high school diplomas to get a job (federal employment laws prohibit it), allow employers to use education as a hiring criteria (Supreme Court outlawed it 1969), allow employers to use education requirement for promotion purposes (Supreme Court outlawed that too), guarantee kids jobs if they graduate, involve business in schooling and funding of it, use courts to sentence young offenders to school training, don't allow bulling, etc., in schools. Rick, Yakima, Wa.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  129. Tydestra

    Education in this country won't age until people start putting attention to education. I grew up in NYC and didn't graduate HS because my school's AP program and dropped out because I was bored. When I graduated college, I was mocked by the gang members on my street. The majority of the people not graduating are minorities, when the country and the people put education where it belongs then things will change.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  130. Tony Piscetta

    Dear Jack,
    I agree with the results of the poll 100%...and must add my one vote to keep Suzanne (tell Wolf to take a walk).

    April 3, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  131. Clark, Milford, IN

    We need a mandatory millitary. Everyone needs to serve. PERIOD

    April 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  132. Christine from California

    We need to pay teachers a decent wage so we get the best teachers. We treat some of the most important people in our society worse than the trash collector, who probably makes more!

    Thousand Oaks Ca

    April 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  133. Jim, Texas

    ...how about just viewing our children, the next generation, as the most important factor in our ability to remain the most powerful nation in the world. Government and Faith-based organizations will NOT be able to tackle our education woes without the direct involvement of another beneficiary i.e., powerful and huge profit-making corporations. Corporations should simply add another element to their R&D plan – “Education”. Otherwise, forget it and continue to give our kids every reason to fail...and corporations every reason to continue developing the demise of what one was a great Nation.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  134. Bill in New London, CT

    We can't. We blame our schools, but that is simply scapegoating. Lets face it, we live in a country that values stupid. We make fun of and look down on kids who read for fun. As Barack Obama said during his keynote address in 2004, there is a myth out there, in the black community, that a black kid with a book is acting white. Even in the white community, there is a stigma against smart. Our heroes are no long people like JFK, MLK, Einstein, or any intellectual. We raise up Paris Hilton and shoot down intellectualism. WE'VE chosen to be stupid. Now we have to live with it.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  135. Gerald Faver

    I think the neocons have stolen the vision of the common man and students everywhere. I'd be pooh poohed to suggest they've 'breathed in accord', so I won't even mention it. However, survey the consequences of their labors: Docile fools playing video games, swallowing the pablum pumped out on Fox news, sorta like moo-cows, if you get my drift. Sheep?, ah forget it.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  136. Alfie --- Palmdale, Cal.

    When our children are bombarded daily by gangster rap, sex and violence in movies and television, and having never felt the slap of a hand on their posterior, its no wonder they dont learn enough to graduate. Just one more example of the effect that liberals have on our society as a whole, not just our children. A lack of discipline leads to a lack of respect. We are reaping what we have sown. Heroes used to be Superman, John Wayne, and Fonzie. Now it is 50 cent, Paris Hilton, and Brittany Spears. So they went from idolizing a super hero, a cowboy, and a decent-hearted hood, to a criminal, a spoiled diva, and a mental case. Without decent leadership, we will only be able to watch in horror as our next generation is unable to compete on any level with the rest of the world.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  137. Thomas

    We can compete by once again becoming a manufacturing country.
    We lost that work ethic and have made the kids today think they all should be 6 figure executives and at the same time have made them turn up their noses to hard physical work.....except if the payoff is professional sports. We must bring manufacturing jobs back into the U.S. so the slackers can move out of mommy and daddy's house, get off the streets, off the drugs and become productive U.S. citizens in order to compete in the global economy.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  138. Patricia

    Yea, that's complicated.

    As a high school teacher in Idaho, I realize how good we have it, where drop-out rates are much lower than those you quote. Still, we have our work cut out for us.

    What is the difference between areas with low drop-out rates and higher ones? Strong families where someone is home after school, a community that values education and provides opportunities and healthy children.

    When someone is at home there is likely less TV and video games, less crime and better nutrition. When education is valued and there are jobs waiting, there is hope for the future. Where there is health, there are fewer impediments to being able to focus in school.

    While there are surely schools that have serious issues that need to be addressed, I believe most of the change has to come from the home in order for our children to get quality educations.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  139. Mohammed

    even if only 50% are its not like any other country has a good education

    Alexandria, VA

    April 3, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  140. John

    Will anyone ever hold parents accountable for children dropping out of school. As long as there is a law saying they can drop out there will be drop outs. IT STARTS WITH THE PARENTS!!!

    April 3, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  141. Rex in Portland, Ore.

    Whoever said that – that we are non-competitive in the global market because of our lack of high school graduates – is blowing wind into a bag. The half of the students that do not graduate are not the players in the global game; nor would they have been if they had been given a diploma.

    Granted, the percentage of students completing the course of study is very low in the inner cities. Do you think the students don't know the worthlessness of a 'diploma' in the current system? Can you imagine the stupidity of an employer placing credence in a 'diploma'?
    When everyone has one, a diploma is nothing.

    There are good students, educable, pliable, fit for academics; there are "poor" students which could care less about Socrates and do not comprehend cosines and tangents. None are worthless, none are 'better' than the other, yet half are wasted.

    Everyday politics has taken control of the education systems. There are no national goals other than to pass a test. There is no equitable source of income among school districts. There are so many negatives, in fact, that the entire concept of education in the USA should be revisited and revised. If we could keep the politicians and the "professionals" out of the revising process there might be some progess made.

    April 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  142. Carole Ellis

    We are not competing and we can not with this low graduation rate.
    The solution is not simple, because it involves teachers' unions, principals, how money is provided for education, too much attention to measuring and not enough to needs of the students, the decline of parental responsibility and accountability which is passed on to students, the low morale of teachers, the myriad forms of entertainment that young people get hooked on . . .I could go on. Again the solution is not simple and it will not be quick-but it does need the attention of all facets of the American society if it is to be solved.
    Carole Ellis, NC

    April 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  143. Fish god Las Vegas,Nv.

    In 1951 when I graduated 100% of my class did also.In some schools it was only 90% ,that 10% were probably undiagnosed autistics .My Dad told me that if I didn`t he would personally kick my butt all the way to the Army recruiter. This generations parents don`t seem to give a damn..

    April 3, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  144. Susan from Verdi NV

    We can't until the Republicans get out of the White House. The Republicans have been steadily working for years to destroy the education system in the US. And they have done a good job. The "leave no child behind" is just one of the examples. Teachers spend 90% of their time preparing students to pass the tests. How can they teach under these conditions. The Republicans don't want the middle class to think and a non-thinking person becomes a follower not a leader. US schools are a disaster now. They are building more prisons, owned by Corporations, than schools, does that tell you where the Republicans want the US to move.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  145. stephanie

    Jack, we can compete if we stop buying electronic babysitters(game systems) and monitor the watch time and Tv programs that poision the minds of our children. They don't call it the idiot box for nothing.stephanie/houston,tx.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  146. Brent

    It's the kids when i was in high school i had aspiration i did my work i studied and those who didnt got left behind if they what to work as a ditch digger its there choice, It's that simple. Each kid makes a choice. Stop talking about the dropouts and start talking about the kid in one of those schools taht went to Harvard or Yale and got the Masters cause they did the work. You cab put the worst teachers and the worst schools ina a study and still find kids that succeed. Why is that because they did the work and worked damn hard.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  147. Andy


    What part of BUSH don't you understand...He has screwed up everthing and possibly the WORLD.

    Ocala, FL

    April 3, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  148. Barbara Nitardy

    Until parents are held responsible for their children attending school nothing will improve. Years ago minorities wanted their children to go to school to have a better life. Now instead of making their children go to school they take them shopping to buy $100 sneakers. Now children have rights. HAHAHAHA

    April 3, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  149. Lonnie

    Does anyone have statistics on how drop outs continue with their education? I've seen students that didn't fit in normal public school, dropped out, went on to get their GED and then start college, all before their former school mates graduated from High School.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  150. Mike Callaghan


    We compete internationally when we go international; maybe our schools need the international touch. Why do the Asians become valedictorians and native borns–droop out? Lets bring Europe, Asia and America together; go to school in varied Euro-Asian-American settings....talk about learning? Travel, learn, read, get disciplined and maybe Europe and Asia will be a better setting for some kids.

    Give the schools back to their origins: the churches, the parents, but go global: this could save some kids, maybe more than just a few.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  151. James, Sun City CA

    Jack, we can't compete, and we aren't. There is not one or two or three answers for our education dilemma, but for a start we need to vastly improve the quality our our teachers by paying them much more. Schools need to be smaller. Kids need to have an adult at home to insure they do their homework. Education needs to emphasized y the media and our leaders AS A PUBLIC SERVICE. And of course, the kids have to know there is a job with a living wage awaiting them. I've listed about one percent of what I think needs to be done. Thanks for asking!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  152. Kristen Ingram

    Before we compete globally, we have to build a society where people are valued more than money or power. High school graduations should depend not only on numbers, but on someone's caring whether kids graduate. We've built a nation whose only aim is the bottom line, and poor kids of all colors are trampled under that line. Big companies ship jobs out of the countries, so what kind of job can Joe get, even if he does graduate?

    April 3, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  153. greg, canada

    Compete, hell Jack the United States hasn"t even been in the running for the last two generations! I think it all started about the time one your brighter teaching professors was advocating, "tune in, tuneout, drop out". Now with our current generation not knowing the meaning of respect and dignity, let alone who their father is, is it any wonder our kids are dropping out in record numbers. The inner city kids today think of themselves as tribal. No longer is proper english important to these kids, they have developed their own language, "word up dog"!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  154. dan

    hi jack we have to understand one thing here. the country is not concern about the future this has turned into a true man eat man society. if we do not elect Obama, and we end up with McCain soon the rates will stoop lower only 20 percent will graduate honestly it makes me wonder how much of this nonsense can the country take without realizing that we are about to be punk d again???

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  155. Tom Smith, Madison, Wisconsin

    Today's kids are not stupid. They know there are prescious few good jobs available today. They also know that a high school diploma is good for little more than getting a job at a fast food counter.

    Teach them something that is worthwhile, something they can see is of value and you could not keep them away. Continue patting the educational system and teachers with no clue of how to teach usable skills and these kids will continue to wast their time doing things they enjoy instead of wasting it in a holding pattern in a institutional classroom.

    And most important, bring back jobs that are worth going through a learning expeirence for.

    It is not the kids that are stupid!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  156. grant Marcus

    I hope you aren't blaming the schools for the problem.
    That's like blaming the victim for being raped because
    she walked down the wrong avenue. It's our government
    that has walked down the wrong avenue, Lobby Avenue,
    giving more money for war and pork barrel projects than
    it does for education. No wonder recruiters on high
    school campuses have more of an impact on our
    students than teachers do. At least they can get away
    with promising jobs and signing bonuses for military
    fodder. Ah, the best young minds of a generation...
    grant, in Ventura Ca.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  157. Steve

    I teach in Miami, but am lucky enough to be at a school of choice. The students at my school have parents that care enough to take the initiative to get their students out of their "home" school and into a school of choice. However, I see the kids in the neighborhoods, hustling for food on the streets. Sometimes it is easier for them (and cooler) for them to get drugs (than food). Neighbors don't turn in a parent for not providing basic necessities like food and clothes. No wonder that the students are not looking toward a positive future. Until our cities (with federal help) get a handle on making sure that every students gets basic necessities and positive role models, the teachers and schools will be fighting a loosing battle.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  158. Chris

    In short, it can't. As a recent graduate of a great high school in a terrible public school system, I can say that there are good schools out there. There are good schools in the inner cities, but there just aren't enough of them because there aren't enough teachers. We, and by we I mean the government, need to provide some motivation for people to teach... maybe a salary above $35,000. Provide tuition for people to go to school in exchange for 4 years of teaching in an inner city or rural school. Provide tangible benefits, provide decent pay, provide something other than the warm fuzzies that you get from teaching.
    Chris, New Orleans

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  159. Jim

    Jack, we simply can't complete globally if only half of our students are graduating! We need to give high school students motivation to succeed and work hard to graduate. One way to do that is enact programs like we are doing in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Promise, which will provide EVERY student who graduates from a Pittsburgh Public school the money he or she will need to attend college. Why do you think graduation rates are so much higher in European countries? How about the incentive of free college? Until we give underprivileged students a reason to work hard, nothing is going to change.

    Jim, Pittsburgh

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  160. Phillip

    Unfortunely, we can not compete globally. Receiving stats like that only enhance the notion giving by Corporate Executives like Bill Gates. I bet he's jumping for joy. Now he can get all the HB1 Visas he want.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  161. Mark Challis

    The terrible graduation rate in the top 50 cities is an unintended consequence of no child left behind. School administrators are encouraging the poorly performing students to drop out before the 11th grade mandatory test. This falsely skews the improvement numbers. Another example of how Bush has screwed things up.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  162. James W. Blevins

    We can't compete - have you tried to buy American lately? We shouldn't even have to talk about high school drop out rates, we should be talk about University rates. That any normal American doesn't complete high school is absurd. There is a sickness in America that had better get fixed before the Goths sack the place.

    Jim, Craig, CO

    April 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  163. Lori

    The difference between inner city and suburb is have vs have not. In this case the have nots do not have time to parent. The answer is give parents time to do the job. When both parents have to be at work all the time, or a single parent needs to be at work MORE than all the time, how can we expect children to succeed. I think this was the result of Raganomics. and the never ending push to increase the bottom line.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  164. Bill, Las Cruces, NM

    The simple answer is we aren't going to be competitive. The lack of LEADERSHIP in education, the poor expectations of many teacher prep programs, administrators who are more interested in the salary than the students, NCLB, are just some of the factors leading to our pitiable graduation rate. We don't expect much from students educationally. We don't know how to guide teachers to do a better job. We don't really implement a few goals well, preferring a shotgun approach that doesn't do anything well. Where are the music programs? Where are the art programs? Why don't schools use libraries to good effect? Things that might get students involved in their education are left out while the almighty standardized test rules. We don't educate. We test.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  165. Katy, from DC/ GA

    This issue has become so overshadowed in recent years due to the growing number of crises around the world. I think that few people understand that so many of our problems are routed in a lack of educational opportunity! That is why I decided to dedicate two years of my own personal life (post graduating from college this May) to teaching in inner city Atlanta, where the children need MORE support and motivation, not less, from their teachers. The organization Teach for America, sponsored by Americorps, has long recognized that this is one of the most devastating challenges that our society faces today. One step toward a solution to the educational acheivement gap in this country is to get MORE young idealistic and motivated college graduates to commit to teaching in the inner cities for at least 2 years. I think that this will help close the incredible discrepency in graduation rates among urban High Schools across the country and help solve many of the other economic and political problems of our time!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  166. Thomas Collins

    Colin Powell is right - low rates of H.S. graduation in America's major cities is a catastrophy. There is no way these people can compete in the international marketplace. All presidential candidates need to address this crisis, yet the answer is not the traditional response - more govt programs and govt spending. Someone needs to, with great charismatic leadership, inspire these young people. Where are Martin Luther King and John Kennedy when we need them?

    April 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  167. Christine, Lee's Summit, MO

    Yes we can. The biggest problem in our country is that we think everyone should receive the same type of education K – 12 and then 4 years of college and if the kid does not fit that mold then we toss them aside and doom them to fast food restaurants and retail jobs. We need to educate kids differently and provide specialized work training programs that fit into our economy and provide decent paying wages. Right now, our world is all or nothing, so kids don't bother trying if finishing high school only provides a minimum wage starting salary. Based on the jobs available for high school graduates, I would say that employers don't really value a high school education, so why should we expect a 16 year old kid to value a high school diploma?

    April 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  168. Kelly

    Two words: standardized tests.

    They need to be done away with, Jack. I am a first year teacher in an urban school and the only way our school can stay open is if we get our test scores up. We're so busy concentrating on these tests that are coming up at the end of this month, it's hard to teach anything else, like character education or fine arts Things like the "No Child Left Behind Act" are doing exactly the opposite of what the name suggests, and therefore I am working everyday with kids that are 3 grade levels behind where they should be. Maybe the president could come visit my school and see just how his policies on education and testing aren't help these kids at all.


    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  169. Andy

    When you have a pattern of opulence being bestowed upon generation after generation what do you expect? How many kids have grown up with Nintendo, Playstation, iPod, cable TV, the inetrnet, etc? They live in a world that has nothing to do with reality. They have become the perfect parteners for the kids of 30 million illegals. And the answer to your question, Jack, is that we won't be able to compete globally. Read, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," and see if you can identify any similiarities between Rome and America.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  170. Ira Kasper M.D.

    As usual the statistics have measured the wrong problem. Show me the percent of drop outs that come from single parent families and the percent of those who go on to college who come from two parent families. Success in school is dependant primarily on a child's sense of self-worth which mainly comes from parental involvement, and mostly paternal. If your father doesn't think you are important enough to hang around, how important can you feel about your self, therefore why put in the effort.
    Stop ignoring the real problem.

    Ira KAsper M.D.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  171. Mike

    Jack, one reason the number seems so high is that if a high school student does not complete his/her schooling in four years, they are considered a dropout by the governments standards. A high percentage of those students do continue on for an additional semester or two and complete their education. The NCLB increased core standards have made it tougher for some students to make it in four years, but as a high school teacher in Michigan I can assure you that many students that are labeled dropouts do in fact get a diploma and are not just out walking the streets. We need to take into account all students that are in the classroom when talking about dropout numbers.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  172. mike riddick

    Hi, Jack. love u first of all you always know the proper and straight forward thing to say about things. So ill offer a solution. For the kids that dont want to go to school and graduate. Draft them into the military for two years. I promise when they come back, they will be more interested to want to get more education.

    The report the other they said we cant send more troops to Afganistan cause we dont have the troops to send. Well ill bet u if u stop sending these kids to prison for marijuana and selling crack on the street and start sending them to the military for two year. you will end all that.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  173. Whit Broussard

    The dropout rate has always been high! It is now just a little higher. This is a natural result from the break down of the traditional family. There is nothing to worry about because society has made its choicesa and must pay the price for those choices. Don't forget that America has a huge population and millions of more people are willing to immigrate \. There will always be the ability to meet America's needs.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  174. Remo "Uzi" Gwaldabi

    The answer is we can't. Ignorance is at an all time high exemplified by the fact that George Bush got re-elected. The media is partially responsible. They ...excuse me you..don't report the horrid deterioration of democracy under the Bush administration both domestically and worldwide. How can we expect our kids, who are shielded by well meaning parents from bad news, to be able to realize only knowledge can raise us up to confront and solve the problems of our world and account for the fact that our corporations and government are responsible for most of them. Half the well educated people I know can't accept and deal with that,

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  175. Tony,.......Lou, Ky.

    Jack....What difference does it make? We only hire immigrants (legal or illegal)anyway!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  176. T.D.

    Dear Mr. Cafferty:

    As a college professor at a major university in Texas and someone whose been in education for the past 30 plus years, I am here to tell you that No Child Left Behind is as the most lousy education policy to come along in the history of mankind. We have a crippled society that does not promote responsibility, let alone accountability, among our young people and when pressed to learn in the classroom, they hit you with a look of entitlement as if they are 'owed' an education. Just imagine what we could do for our children and education with $12 billion a month! Jack, it just breaks the heart. God Bless you for shining a light on this situation.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  177. Patricia Row

    As a former teacher it is possible to complete high school in three years with a concentrated course load. This might help the youngsters who feel that they want to get out early. Also where are the truancy officers! We need to graduate all these young people in school to allow them to proceed in life. Let's make them proud of themselves.


    New Hampshire

    April 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  178. Alysse

    Forget about global competition, these are children for heavens sake! Imagine this wasn't "someone else's kid," but your own. As a parent how would you feel about your child attending a school with poor facilities, educational materials, and teachers? How are these children going to succeed in their own lives if they are not provided the educational opportunities that are standard in suburban counterparts. No Child Left Behind has turned these low "performing" urban schools into highly controlled, almost militaristic institutions that don't foster critical thinking or creativity, but demand rigorous repitition and memorization of materials for a mainstream culturally based aptitude test........If they don't they are threatened with state funding (which is already pitibly low) being witheld. I'm disappointed in all three presidential candidates for not taking a stronger (or any) stand against this inhumane "solution" to america's city school crisis. What the hell is patriotic about allowing this to happen? Why is no one "outraged" by this?

    April 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  179. Tekoa

    The education policy in America is appauling. I lived in detroit until I was 11. I wonder what would have become of me if I had stayed. Education in America is predicated upon property taxes. This system is flawed and only deems to perpetuate racism and classism. The education system in America should be a federally funded institution.
    It's hard to believe that in this country children have a predicted future based upon where they live. We need to stop ignoring this issue. The whole system is distinctively race based and is going to destruct our country from the inside out. Can you tell me the cost of a child?

    April 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  180. johnny

    We need a new educational structure in America. Motivate students to get involved in math and sciences to recover the golden age of innovation in America. I hope the next president would be able to make the right decisions to change the public education system.

    Wake up americans, stop expensive media lifestyles.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  181. Gary

    The dropout rate will continue to be high in cities unless something crucial is done. Why kids aren't into school today isn't because the church and big business aren't involved, it's because school doesn't interest the people in it. School is so formal now, kids are treated as if they were in prison. I also believe that most kids growing up today are looking for a change from what their parents do, and their parents before them. The kind of change that Obama speaks of bringing that everyone's skeptical of. I do know one thing though, if this trend continues, the homeless rates are going to skyrocket in the future...

    April 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  182. omar

    my mistake having kids at a young age doesnt help but my financial trouble to raise my kids from a home to gas in my car is what stops me from acheiving more in education with no money to do that my families shelter is more important create more jobs and not give companys the right to hire illigal immigrants to pay americans less

    April 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  183. dolores

    Santa Barbara, California

    As a teacher in the public education system, I have seen the No Child Left Behind program seek to flatten the bell curve and as a result, the dumbing down of students, as everyone marchs in lock step fashion toward standardized testing. With creativity and passion being sucked out of teachers with standardized lesson plans and curriculum, it is no surprise to me that students are not succeeding in the current educational environment.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  184. Joe Angelo

    Your question is a good one. We can’t possibly compete when our next generation is opting out. The ills of pubic education have been incubating for over 230 years and have as their basis the municipal property tax. There is no silver bullet solution. The solution needs to grow from a change in the method of funding and flow through different branches toward a vision for all children.
    Lexington, MA

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  185. joseph

    Dear Jack!
    What do you expect more? If Dick chiney said " so?" when he was told that people are against the war in Iraq. Other countries are investing in educating their people while we're are investing in how we can get our kids being killed in misleading wars. Dear Jack, History won't never forgive this government neither the people who voted for them.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  186. John Sayer

    After doing a quick Google I found a number of articles which stated that anywhere from 40% to 60% (or more) of students entering college needed remedial courses. I've been reading these kinds of results since 1996. So graduation rates are worth urine in substance.
    They do allow politicians to grandstand (especially for inner city schools), and then blame schools for not doing "their job". But when
    STUDENTS don't study, when STUDENTS don't go to school,

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  187. Andrew

    Jack –
    I think a lot of people are looking at excuses and approaches that are poor at best regarding this issue. Those who blame the misuse finance in Iraq and those who think students should be reimbursed financially for getting 'good grades' believe that their problems will be resolved by the almighty dollar. But that is the issue: the dollar will be in decline if we are unable to support education.

    The reason these problems were a non-issue among 'older' generations, I think, is that parents were more involved in their children's daily activities. Video games, the internet, and other such instances where parents allow their children to wander mentally impact their thoughts on what is important. If we want to fix the problem, we need to start from the home.

    I'd be interested to see the corolation between parental involvement in their child's activities and the corresponding drop out rate.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  188. William, Al Asad Iraq

    Most of them that drop out could care less about competing globally. Those city drop outs have never left the city, have no desire to leave the city, and will never leave the city and much less. There are many other reasons why the drop out rate is what it is, but that wasn’t the question.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  189. julien

    Answer: America can thrive despite these appaling graduation rates, simply by continuing to welcome highly-educated, well-trained, and cheap folks from abroad. Let the Europeans, like me, and the Asians fill the gaps of skilled labor in the country, while leaving the costs of educating them for the first 25 years of their life to their sending country! What a deal!
    “A hungry stomach cannot hear” , as La Fontaine said: as long as the US can absorb more foreign skilled labor force, the country will grow without understanding the urgent need to take corrective action at home.

    New York

    April 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  190. Dee from Michigan

    Hey Jack,
    It is all so alarming. But let me give you a hint of what it is like to teach through the eyes and ears from our daughter, who left Michigan-no hiring of teachers here, or any other jobs, the only ones making any money are the moving companies.. So our daughter packed her bags, went off to Baltimore to teach. Let's just say she has become jaded with the system, the students and the parents. She has 12 and 13 year olds that are on electronic tethers, or on probation. Do you blame the educational system for failure or do you blame society or do you blame the parents. Quick, you have all the answers, so send me one Uncle Jack so she can understand .PS, thanks for not asking ANOTHER question about Hillary Clinton. I love Hillary, and I am tired of her being your punching bag. Put that in your book bag.......and go learn something.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  191. Chris, San Diego, CA

    I am a 39 year old who dropped out of high school years ago. SInce that time, I have earned a Bachelor's degree AND a law degree. There is hope. Instead of focusing on the dropout rates and making it more difficult for students to take the GED, we need to find out WHY students are dropping out.

    There is no doubt that the system is broken, and has been for a long time. It does not meet the needs of ALL students- just the ones that can stand to get through four years of tedious and pointless work. We need to provide students with more flexibility and options for learning and for careers. Unfortunately, with the economy and impending budget cuts, we won't see anything happening for a while. The first to see the effects of a bad economy are the very schools we are talking about.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  192. Karin

    With a president that asks the question 'Is our children learning?" its obvious.. you don't have to have an education to be the most powerful man in the world... so why bother.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  193. Tom Mize

    Get the federal government out education. The constitutional convention expressly relegated eduction to the states for a reason.
    Since federal intervention begqn in 1965 wih the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the quality of education has consistently deteriorated so that we fell from number one in the world to twenty-third. Give schools back to the locals and they will insure that more of their own are properly educated.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  194. Lorainne

    We can't. Not only are the graduation rates a disaster but those who do graduate can't afford the higher education needed for this nation to remain productive and secure. This is just one more indication that our priorities must change. Iraq has consumed blood, treasure and common sense and diverted us from what is really important.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  195. Jim Foster

    The teachers are more worried about kids passing the state testing requirements and the fereral and stae dollars they might loss if the kids don't score high,they teach to pass that exam thats all.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  196. Dave Croken

    Dear Jack,
    We can start by having so called "American Companies" keep the jobs here. How can we compete globally when these companies are given tax incentives to send their jobs overseas. I'm in favor of corporate tax incentives to keep the jobs here and re-invest in our youth and cities.
    Instead of questioning the patriotism of those who spoke out against the Iraq Invasion, let's really question the partriotism of corporate America.
    Or, maybe we should just have Lou (Dobbs) blame the teachers again.


    April 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  197. Cindy

    As the US government pushes forward with outsourcing and offshoring while handing out H1B and nine other kinds of worker visas, it holds down the pay of US workers. It sends a powerful disincentive towards working hard in school to have a better future in the workplace.

    Arguably, these kids will have adequate preparation to work at big box stores and fast food restaurants. Those jobs are not likely to be sent overseas.

    Then there are all the self serving education and social advocates who sabotage the education of our chidlren by demanding they learn a little of everything and so basically almost nothing.

    We demand the schools stamp out every conceivable social ill by "teaching" our culture out of it. This misguided agenda has resulted in young people who are bored to tears with annual anti drug, anit sex, anti alcohol, anti smoking indoctrinations. They laugh at educators backwardness in using technology. This backwardness is rooted in educators refusing to learn how to use computers, refusing to rethink how they do their jobs.

    My bright kids were tormented by their teachers. One told my son to put down his hand because "everyone knows he knows the answer". The majority of public schools teach our kids to be dumb because they reward mediocrity and they fear and reject excellence.

    VOUCHERS are long overdue. Put the education back in the hands of the parents and stop using the schools to "solve" every social ill.

    Make educationg the kids for the 21st century job 1.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  198. Dee - Arkansas

    Jack, I think the rate of drop outs in high schools is horrible. Last
    year, when my Grandson didn't graduate, I learned something that
    I had never know. The tests at the end of school under NO CHILD
    LEFT BEHIND determine whether a child graduates, no matter their
    grades for the year. If they don't pass these tests they are listed as
    drop outs in Texas. I think this is a ridiculous and unfair way to
    determine whether you are a drop out. I know how hard my Grandson
    worked and how devastated he was when he couldn't graduate.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  199. N Moore


    I was just listening to a local radio station on the way to work yesterday and the topic was about high school students in the Minnesota school system and the percentage that drop out.

    The question posed there was why as well . The answer. . .

    Funding for many programs that the kids enjoy, that motivate them have been pulled. Kids who may not do as well with sitting in a chair all day long could do better in a setting where there is creativity supported. Whether that is the arts or music etc. There used to be great programs avaiable that would support kids at risk for dropping out via identifying them and helping them to get into a trade school. Those programs are gone now. One mother called in and said her son dropped out as a teen. He's in his 30's now and is still having problems. If they had supported him with some of a trade he might have been okay now. The statictics show that kids who go the trade school route graduate and do get good jobs.

    There was another study that showed that overall the kids were getting good grades but when it came to the mandated testing the kids were failing the tests. Because they freeze up with tests? Many people don't do well with tests. They said that these kids who failed the tests had no option but to go back to high school the next year for a fifth year. Would you? What happend to good old reading, writing and rithmitic being enough.

    Bring back the programs that support these kids. Bring back the arts. That will change the dropout rate.

    Wisconsin on the Minnesota border

    April 3, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  200. bob kelley

    Students can not pass the required to pass to graduate tests so they do not graduate. 10 years of allowing the students to go to the next grade level has finally resulted in failing high school students. If students were not passed on, we would not have kids crashing in high school.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  201. Andrew Renzella, West Linn, OR

    This city I live in constantly increases taxes and institute school bonds for education. Everyone is in agreement that you should do what you can for the children. What has me miffed is if the money does not equate into results. Money isn't always the answer, you need to look at the root of the problem. Its not government, they can't solve all your problems. What needs to occur is a results based pay scale, and if you don't make the cut as a teacher, you need to move on. If I was running a business I wouldn't want to keep workers that were not succeeding in having kids graduate. I would want to get their butts out of that position. Try to do that in todays unionized system of education.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  202. Faye in Ohio

    We can't compete globally with our present educational system. Every-one should take a hint from the 70-year-old shown on CNN, going back to school learning to read. As a first grader he is making remarkable progress. The children in the classroom love him, as does the teacher. When he asked the teacher, "Did you know that there are big signs in the grocery store telling you what's on each aisle, and that you don't have to walk all over the store to find things?",
    I felt like crying. As a former teacher, I can only say, "Don't give up. Be like the 70 year old and carve your own educational agenda, regardless of how little education seems to be valued in this country".

    April 3, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  203. Cruz

    I don't see what the problem is, if the Democratic Party would just do "winner take all" in all the primaries Senator Clinton would win hands down. Maybe next time Mr. Dean will get smart and set it up that way.
    It's obvious if Obama can't win the big states what makes him think he can win them in the general election? I don't care if Obama wins a lot more of those little states it's the big states that count!
    Yes, Obama has a lot more big idea's but you can't go into the Presidency and think the other party is going to let you do what ever you want (unless your George Bush of course). Don't forget the Clintons had big ideas to get health care but learned you can't make big changes fast, you have to go slow and add them as you go, Hillary knows that now.
    As for all the money Obama has raised I have one name to have him remember " Mitt Romney"


    April 3, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  204. johnglendenning

    John Glendenning
    27, US Army Vet

    Compete in what sense? The question I think should be asked is this... How is this going to affect us in the future? And my answer to that question is this.
    ...In this following aspect, we will continue to see companies outsourcing work, simply because it will be hard to find an American to do the job. And at that point we can only blame ourselves. So this needs to be addressed by the presidential candidates. I want to know what they plan to do about it, because it is a problem.
    I am 27 years old, and I am already set in my career of choice. I have made my own personal strides to get where I am today, by many graces. And so I say, that I am afraid for the future of our country, when the future is our children. And it is they, our youth, that we are failing. It is the youth that will be our doctors. They are the future teachers and doctors of their children.
    I would like to end with something I learned my 4 years in the army. As an NCO, it was my job to set my soldiers up for success, not failure. And it is the responsibility of the people to ensure that our elected representatives set us up for success. We all have to be in this movement, this understanding, this right thing to do, together.

    Thank You to the Constitution Of America for allowing me to speak freely, and thank you CNN.com for allowing me a space to voice my opinion, and thank you to all who took the time to read this, my best wishes for you and your family,

    April 3, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  205. Tall

    Jack, I am an international student and I am very concerned about american education. The educational system is really catastrophic at this moment. Why? Because the social system which is the backbone of good education is broken. Kids in many ways live with just a single parent who is trying to make ends meet, doesn't have time to supervise or even take good care of them. Kids spent more time on video games and internet than they spend on their books. The learning process is not engaging or challenging anymore, but just made easy to pass without much hard work. But remember easy fix doesn't always rhyme with good. Finally teachers have lost their ethics and focus more on their pay and trying to woo their students than trying to mold the minds of tomorrow's leaders. But let's not forget, these kids will act and behave upon what they know, and we all ought to do something for our educational system for tomorrow.

    Columbus, OH

    April 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  206. Goose, N. Richland Hills, Texas

    Jack, I think we should mandate high school graduation. I don't want to go on a rant here, but I blame a large percentage of that poor graduation rate on No Child Left Behind and these damn standardized tests. We need to do away with No Child Left Behind first, and issue a mandate second. We need to start thinking of how we're going to catch up to the rest of the world and secure our future.

    P.S. I love your commentary, Jack. I think you're awesome!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  207. Charlie, CA

    I've been asked by a 16 year old what part of CA is Asia in. Why are children allowed to not know basic geography? If they don't know what they should in their grade they should be allowed free help after school.

    Why don't we challenge children to learn and broaden their minds? We've trained our kids to accept that it's ok to say it's too hard to do something and back down from a challenge instead of rising to a challenge.

    It's part the systems fault and part the fault of the parents who don't push their kids to educate themselves and actively take an interest in school.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  208. P

    This is not a political issue. Too many parents STILL do not see the value of education. Our kids, and we have 7 of them, love to read and we have them do Math every day, even throughout the summer. It is shocking how many parents think we are crazy. It is the attitude of the parents that the kids take their cues from and parents need to wake up to the realities of their kids competing globally.
    We CAN'T compete globally with this shocking and dismal failure and lack of education. Kids in China and India go to school year-round and their scores and achievements in Math and Science far surpass the US. We as parents need to step up to the plate and encourage, if not force, our kids to participate and do much better in education and educational activities.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  209. Skip Dunford

    How can we compete? The answer's obvious we can't! The sad thing is, these kids are victims of "No Child Left Behind." Schools and school systems have no incentive to help low-performing students stay in school and graduate, lest their scores be pulled down below standards.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  210. John Pitcock

    At the rate of decline in graduation, these drop outs will end up being the cheap labor making products to sell to the affluent Chinese who are graduating at high rates and with better grades.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  211. Harold Bollinger

    Jack. Every one of those citys with the high drop out rate have one thing in common. There all run by Black Liberial mayors. If you think the drop out rate is bad now,wait till Obama gets elected.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  212. Jerry Wilson

    How important can education be? President Bush is a college graduate.

    Jerry Wilson

    April 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  213. Mark Oklahoma City

    Jack, if you knew what kind of "idiots" and "drug addicts" out there are actually having kids, then "dumping" them on society to raise, you wouldn't even ask such a question. A lot kids in this "Great Nation" are worried about mom and dad going to jail, where their next meal is coming from and who they will be dumped on tomorrow to take care of them? Education? For a lot of kids, "survival" IS Education!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  214. Patrick (LA)

    The short answer – we can not compete. We in America need to view education as a pure investment. Our children and the foundation they are given will drive us in the coming decades. It is our choice to ignore and build nothing, or to wake up and begin helping these teachers and schools.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  215. ron williams

    Jack, perhaps the media should look beyond the bare statistics into the roots of the problem. It's not an accident that suburban schools graduate a far greater percentage of their students. Inner city teachers are not just less qualified than suburban teachers nor do they care less. The problem is obvious and if we can't ever discuss it, we will never solve it. If Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton really cared, they would stop their rabble rousing and spend their time helping their people in a sincere way.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  216. paul a.


    These statistics are interesting, but incomplete. The lowest graduation rates are withing the minority communities, mostly black and hispanic. Unfortunately this country still sees education, jobs, healthcare etc. in racial terms, This is despite all the gagga, goggo over Senator Barack Obama. NONE of the Candidates are talking about these desparities, and I doubt that they will in any meaningful way. It not an attractive thing to talk about. But it is a very real problem, and until we get serious and understand that in order to change these statistics, we MUST provide a lot more resources in these communities in the effort to turn things around. There are a host of problems, including, overcrowded classes, poor curiculum, a lack of creativity in education and a whole lot more. The media loves to address and write and comment on the glamourous part of daily life, they tend to neglect the gritty part, because they complain that no one in interested, but this is wrong. They, as well as politicians need to take a true leadership role and get this problem solved. I am a black male who not only lives in these communities, and see these problems play out first hand. Unfortunately none of these politicians , or other who express outrage live anywhere close, nor visit unless they have to for a story or photo opportunity.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  217. Dave Croken

    Dear Jack,
    We can start by having so called "American Companies" keep the jobs here. How can we compete globally when these companies are given tax incentives to send their jobs overseas. I'm in favor of corporate tax incentives to keep the jobs here and re-invest in our youth and cities.
    Instead of questioning the patriotism of those who spoke out against the Iraq Invasion, let's really question the partriotism of corporate America.
    Or, maybe we should just have Lou (Dobbs) blame the teachers again.

    Dave Croken MIddletown, NJ

    April 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  218. uncle Jimbo - Chicago

    To compete globally one would think that first off – Americans would work for 1.50 a day. How can we even begin to think about competing on the global labor market unless their wages go up, or our wages go down. Seems fairly simple.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  219. Karma

    After spending billions of dollars to see that every child can, highly frustrating students, teachers, and some parents, maybe we need to start a whole new campaign to see that every students wants to graduate. It is like the old adage, you lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. I am a retired teacher, and what is happening in the education system today is just sad. There is too much pressure being put on all students to become brilliant and each state only tries to out do the other. With all of this pressure, it is little wonder that students are dropping out. Now a district near us is taking away morning recess as it uses too much time during the school day. In another building, I hear that recess is being directed physical fitness activities. When do our children get to be kids. My daughters graduated in the "olden days." One is an instructor in a school of cosmetology and the other manages million dollar accounts for a large corporation. I think that they could be considered successful and I am very proud of both of them. Did they graduate? Of course they did. In our home that was not their choice. Gee, does that mean parents have to accept their share of all of these students not graduating?

    April 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  220. Bill N., Pittsburgh PA


    American students have finally figured out how little the correlation between financial sucess and acedemic achievement has become in this country. As a degreed engineer, the fact that the employees in sales earned about four times as much income as engineers made caused me wonder why I went through all that education. Funny, when I look at a course catalog or offerings in a high school circulium there is no course in "sales". Also, ever notice how many successful bisunessmen brag about how they never went to, or dropped out of college ? You know as well as I that the real money is in professional sports.

    Like the WSJ cartoon with the job interview said:

    (Interviewer) "Majored in lying and minored in cheating...Impressive !"

    April 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  221. Michael from Rockville MD

    America has become a welfare/entitlement nation. Until the country stops providing “backup” plans for everyone who doesn’t graduate we will never be as competitive as we once were.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  222. opal Rampey

    Start with High School Juniors and Seniors working with the business in the area for one class a day rotate jobs and let them see how their education will benifit their future. Or bring the leaders to school to demostrate how the real world works. These teenagers are full of hormones raring to go, their talent soon becomes lost sitting in a boring class that is not teaching what they need to know in the day to day world.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  223. Michael B.


    As a senior in high school who lives in a very rural area in indiana i find this rate completly atrocious.
    From about 9th grade to 11th grade i was very inmature and never did my work but in the last semester of 11th grade i realized that i need to get my you know what in gear.
    I now have a 3.8 GPA on a 4 point scale.
    Basically what im saying is if these inmature brats dont get in gear America will never compete with anyone global. They have no excuse.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  224. Jan

    1.No child left behind has been a failure because teachers are teaching students to pass a test. 2. Low wages for teachers, many have retired or left teaching.3. Parents are not parenting their children, many are spoiled and just don't care to pay attention or study in school.

    A solution would be to get more parents involved in their children's education. Parents please turn off American Idol and read to your children!!!!!!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  225. Donna, Dallas, Texas


    We will not be able to compete in the world if an overhaul to the educational system in America is not drastically changed. The 'No Child Left Behind' is a crock! The teachers only teach 'the test'; principals focus on making sure the teachers are teaching the 'test'; this is burning out and stressing the teachers This leaves the students left programmed to what everybody else knows. There is no room for independent thinking, creativity or self-expression. This leaves 3 major things that need to occur:
    1) Get teachers who choose education as a 1st & 2nd choice not a last resort.
    2) Allocate the money evenly (I mean really allocate it evenly across the country...get enough books and supplies to ALL schools).
    3) Get Parents involved!!!! Set a mandatory amount of hours (on weekends, weeknights, whenever) parents need completed at the child's school in order for a student to move the next grade...or something. Whatever it is, urgency is needed!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  226. Brian


    We cannot compete the way things are going! In order to change things we must start in the home. Parents more than anyone else must motivate and set ideals and goals for their children. Stop blaming teachers and others in the community.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  227. paul b

    this is a comment about education. we have a generation of fill in the blanks and push buttom students. we should get back to a generation of the 3 r's. let the teachers use the golden ruler and cut out the rule paper rules. i have heard we have the no student left behind but t sounds like some students get thekick from behind and out the door. not all students are good at grades but do well when it comes to life. walt disney for one, get a grip america, they wonder why we have problems in the u.s., the stupid tests that show nothing but question asked forthe benefit of some university advantage. teach subjects and not test results.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  228. mike

    send all the lazy dropouts to Iraq,give them a gun,feed for their effort and spare all the real americans..mike

    April 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  229. Jim Nelson

    Actually I believe it is the graduates who will have the problem.
    Manufacturers are lined up to move their machinery to China (which has NOTHING to do with NAFTA, which I also dislike).
    The more "intellectual" jobs are fat being shipped to India (mine goes in July).
    The "competition" is, really, to sink as low as the most corporate-admired wage level. It's gonna hurt and it's gonna hurt bad.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  230. priscilla

    Jack, i dont think the country has not done enough for this children not to compete with other countries, the problem we are facing right now is the students own inability to learn or even go to school. the government has given them much opportunity to attain school to become successful yet they don't want to learn. i dont think there is the need to blame the teachers or their parents especially when the government the the individual parents are trying their best to shape their kids life.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  231. Vivian

    Dear Jack,
    Of course we must educate our youth! But so many forces are working against this. School budgets are constantly being cut, so materials are in shorter supply and classrooms get larger and larger. Inner city schools are more challenging to teach in, so teachers should get extra pay to go there, and classroom rosters should be LOTS smaller.
    Another problem is the No Child Left Behind program. As a teacher I felt the effects of more and more testing–which translated to less and less time for teaching. Can you guess what a rarity is that student who LIKES to take tests? The NCLB tests are not used in grading, and the student's name is not anywhere on the test paper–so the kids know it won't matter how they do! I've heard many say, "I'm not even going to try. Why should I?"
    Then, when a school (probably in an elite neighborhood) scores well, they get "rewarded" with more money, while a school testing poorly is "punished" by receiving LESS funding. Maybe this works in business, but a school is not a business.
    As a teacher I bought thousands of dollars' worth of materials every year. This was to inspire interest and enthusiasm in my students. Most teachers cannot afford to do this, and therefore many find the environment less than inspiring.
    The entire area of public education needs more respect from the governments, federal, state, and local. The voucher system and the NCLB program (both Bush programs) have hurt public education, and therefore this society, immeasureably.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  232. Rick Zimmerman

    Could it be that, paradoxically, the high school drop out rate is related to the notion that everyone should go to college? Not everyone is suited to an academic education. Carpentry and auto mechanics are honorable professions, not to mention the enormous numbers IT-related technical careers. Maybe what's needed is more vocational high school programs, including internships and apprenticeships that will earn the student some money. My college students tell me that kids they know dropped out of high school because of pregnancy, substance abuse, and jobs. All the moralizing in the world will not eliminate these causes. What might help is offering more programs that will actually engage students' interest and maybe earn them some money at the same time.

    Rick Zimmerman, Dededo, Guam

    April 3, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  233. Gene

    Jack, everyone knows we can't compete globally when only about 1/2 the students graduate from high school. Any school graduation says the individual set a goal and then worked to achieve that goal. Most employers want employees that do the same type of thing on-the-job. A lot of the blame her needs to be placed on parents and adults in general. Each of us (adults) has a role in talking and encouraging kids to achieve minimum educational goals. One way in which we could encourage better graduation rates is to require school completion prior to alowing young folks the privilage of getting a drivers license – no diploma; no drivers license. As a stimulus this could get many kids motivated. That license is key to most young people. I speak to this point as an expert ( I was a drop-out myself but then saw the light) an ended up with a HS diploma, 2 associate degrees, 1 BA, and 2 masters degrees. I have a son with a masters and a daughter finishing up a Phd in education. I view encouraging young folks to be one of my retirement jobs and have been pretty good at doing well in that job. As a country we can and should turn these numbers around. I think that judge in Atlanta gets it also – good for him. In a way education never ends in life, we are learning everyday.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  234. Rick Shultz


    We'll keep doing what we have been doing for too long. We'll import (mostly illegally) folks to clean toilets and hotel rooms, because our drop-outs won't. And we'll import a bunch of smart folks, because our education system doesn't enable their development.

    Do you need to be a Rhodes scholar to see a problem with that?

    Rick Medina, OH

    April 3, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  235. Jan, Alexandria, VA

    Where are the parents of the students who do not graduate and why are they allowing their kids to skip out on an education? Perhaps if the parents spent more time with their high school kids, held them to higher standards and responsibilities, made sure they went to school and stayed in school each day, perhaps that would make a huge difference. Too many parents are not heavily invested in insuring their kids graduate and are on a path to a bright future.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  236. Billy (Retired SFPD)

    Jack, bring back the draft for all military forces to save our youth.
    The youth residing in the inner cities are in an environment of learning
    how to survive within his or her communities. They will be more likely
    to be what her or she have been exposed to since birth.
    Place those students that failed to follow the school rules and grades
    into a military base school for education and military training to serve
    our country at a later date and time if needed. Pay now or pay later because the inner cities environment will spread to the outer cities communities. "Guess who's coming to dinner"

    April 3, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  237. AB Smith

    If anyone for one second thinks that the numbers are no big deal and that this isn't an issue of race would not say that if it were happening in their own neighborhoods. Inner city youths don't have a chance to achieve life and academic success. Drugs, broken homes, teachers teaching the tests and not a substantive cirriculum = drop out rates and a breeding ground for the circle of poverty.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  238. Dan

    Are we really surprised by these statistics? I am teacher, 7th and 8th grade in a urban commuter district outside NYC, and one only needs to understand schools are a direct reflection of the society that surrounds them. As educators we can control our classroom period. We cannot change urban decay, lack of quality jobs to aspire to, a multi-media barrage that does nothing to support the concept of valuing education and, in fact, glorifies violence,ignorance, greed, consumerism, and money above all. Who are these children's role models? Rap stars, fake-talents in rehab every other week, athletes with a perpetual criminal record, our corrupt, cronyistic, criminal government leaders. Please. If we don't take the necessary measures to fix SOCIETY, these kids will continue to tune out and this downward spiral towards American mediocrity will accelerate. They are much more aware and intelligent than most give them credit for. As they look outside the classroom what do they see? The same thing we do and it's not promising.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  239. greg, canada

    Wanted, reliable well educated individual, self motivated and able to read and write English. Must be good at mathmatics and have a neat appearence. A general knowledge of other countries and their customs would be an asset. Reply, name- BigZ, education- some , experience- part time rapper , part time drug runner, dress- lowered pants, underwear exposed , t-shirt with JC on it smoking a joint . wat I need to know about out a town for dawg, nuttin going down dare bro!

    April 3, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  240. Jeremiah

    It is really sad when so few children graduate school. Education will always be important in a culture that hopes to compete globally. Then again, in 20 or so years China and India could outsource to us, problem solved.

    -Jeremiah in VA

    April 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  241. JeninTexas


    Another fail policy under the BUSH administration. No child left behind. I think sometimes the Rep live in a little bubble and they don't see all the kids out here in the real world being left behind. Hillary did wonderful with the kids when she was first lady.

    Hillary 09

    April 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  242. Michael

    Preparing students for the future begins with the skill of reading at least one language. Our country has fallen down trying to meet this challenge. As director of technology development at a private North Carolina University, I have been a champion of a reading assessment program developed from over 20 years of federally funded research. This predictive assessment of reading takes 15 minutes to administer to a child, and schools that have adopted the program have seen dramatic improvements with all of their students in a matter of a few months. Unfortunately, our schools and teachers have been burned from No Child Left Behind; their opinions not mine. Hence, we have seen extremely slow adoption with this product in the US over the last four years. Teachers are short on time, resources and salary. Yet, we know we are on the right path, because we have started discussions and large pilot programs with the country of Canada! What is wrong with this picture! It's not because we haven't tried to convince the venture capitalists, school systems, state and federal officials.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  243. Mike in St. Pete, Florida

    Get the federal government out of it. Problems tend to disappear when they're not involved.

    April 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  244. Raj

    US Education System is Far behind as compared to Systems Compared in India or China. US Parents Needs to change their ways as how they treat their Children before it is too late. Kids are given way too much Liberty and there is next to NO Pressure of studies in Schools.It is not too long when US could become History Just Like Russia.


    April 3, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  245. Ron

    This has been known and the results avoided a long time. We need to provide early intervention in kindergarten (parent and child), then match kids with their interest, teach to their interest then see in the middle grades if there interests are still on track. Once in highschool provide pathways before high school that promotes their interest, Some will go to college and others will go to trades. In addition, we need to provide jobs that match their interest and not send them to foriegn countries. How can a person choose a career path when as a teenager they hear the jobs of interest are beigh outsourced, or shipped overseas, i.e. aerospace, accounting, technical support, manufacturing?

    April 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  246. Jannik

    Hello Jack,

    being a foreign exchange student here in Warwick, RI, I can tell you, school here is quite different than on the other side of the big pond. I go to a private school, so I can't really talk from my experience, but from what my friends say about public school, it seems that sometimes it is lacking something that our schools in the old country have, although I don't know what. Maybe, kids need to get around more, see that there is a world outside of this great country, and experience a little more "real life", that might help.

    April 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  247. Carol from El Paso

    These statistics are just frightening. Having taught some freshman-level college courses, I can add that many students that do graduate are poorly prepared for higher level education. The blame is pretty evenly spread – students, teachers, parents, schools, the government - it goes on. But here's a radical idea. Institute a work-study program for the last two years of high school in which students are assigned to an internship or job for, say, three days a week. On the remaining days they will be in class finishing their degree. The money we'd save on teachers who waste a good part of their time could be put to funding this. Those students who have been working at their education will get the jobs which required more preparation – perhaps in an engineering firm, law office, auto body shop, whatever, thus motivating them and preparing them for their future education. Those who might drop out for financial reasons get a chance to finish school because they'll have something of an income. And those who've been goofing off for years will get what's left - a job flipping hamburgers – and that itself might motivate them further. OK, I know, there's some kinks to work out, and I also just like to blab, but with 25% graduation rate (Detroit), something's got to change!

    April 3, 2008 at 6:21 pm |