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Last modified: Monday, September 10, 2007

Educating growing groups "not optional"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 10, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The former chief policy officer of the NAACP and senior policy advisor in the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, will speak on the Indiana University Bloomington campus this week about what he sees as a potential problem for the U.S. economy -- failing to properly prepare some of the fastest-growing segments of the population.

John Jackson, who is now president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, an organization focused on issues of education inequity, will present "Leaving Our Children Behind: the Cost to Our Nation," Thursday (Sept. 13) at
1:30 p.m., in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana Memorial Union. The appearance opens the fall Policy Chat Series sponsored by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy in the Indiana University School of Education.

Jackson said African American and Latino males are falling behind just as their numbers increase, and that the problem is costly not just to the students, but also the nation.

"There seems to be a sentiment that educating African-American and Latino students is optional," he said. "It's not optional; it's a necessity if this country wants to remain competitive in a global market. Economists have said that we're losing about $45 billion in revenue if we just take the dropout rate of Latinos and African American students alone."

"When we consider the brain drain that's occurring in many of these stem areas -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and the need to have individuals to fill positions in those areas...again, there's an economic cost in losing many corporations who are able to recruit that are from other countries, both the high-skilled worker and the low-wage worker," he said.

To address the problem, Jackson said the federal government must play a more active role. He said while court cases have mandated that states are responsible for providing adequate education, states haven't solved the problem.

"It's reaching such a national crisis that the federal government has to play more of a role in providing equity in education," Jackson said. "You may remember in 1973 there was a case San Antonio v. Rodriguez where the Supreme Court essentially said, 'It's up to the states to provide equity.' Well, there have been 45 state educational equity cases filed over the years, so clearly across the country this is an issue."

Jackson added that only in a few cases have state governors or legislators acted to address the inequity.

More emphasis should be placed on making sure Latino and African American students are getting the highly qualified teachers mandated by the Federal "No Child Left Behind" law, said Jackson, who pointed out that the debate on best teaching methods has missed completely the necessity of ensuring that those methods reach students. And while federal law forces educators to focus on standardized test results, Jackson said there should be more focus on the instruction students receive before those tests.

"I don't think the tests should be the only measure we use to determine success, but I do believe that all students can perform well on these tests," Jackson said. "If we're going to use tests as one metric among others, we should ensure that all of the necessary inputs are provided so that the students can perform. Naturally there will be a variance and distribution, but we should not be able to identify by race or gender how that distribution will occur."

The CEEP Policy chat is free and open to the public. For more information about the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy visit CEEP's Web site at http://ceep.indiana.edu.

Media Outlets: the following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Website at http://site.educ.indiana.edu/news/tabid/5663/Default.aspx. Look for the story headline under "Podcasts."

Jackson explains the problem of failing to educate some parts of the U.S. population:

"Beyond just the education lingo of 'No Child Left Behind,' essentially what's happened is America is leaving two of the three fastest growing populations in our nation behind. There's an economic cost to our nation. Economists have said that we're losing about $45 billion in revenue if we just take the dropout rate of Latinos and African American students alone. When we consider the brain drain that's occurring in many of these stem areas -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and the need to have individuals to fill positions in those areas...again, there's an economic cost in losing many corporations who are able to recruit that are from other countries, both the high-skilled worker and the low-wage worker."

Jackson says the outcome of tests can only be altered by looking at the input of education:

"I don't think the tests should be the only measure we use to determine success, but I do believe that all students can perform well on these tests. If we're going to use these tests as one metric among others, we should ensure that all of the necessary inputs are provided so that the students can perform. Naturally there will be a variance and distribution, but we should not be able to identify by race or gender how that distribution will occur."

Jackson says more must be done to assure all students have access to a quality education:

"It's a matter of guaranteeing it, but the federal government has to play more of a role, because it's reaching such a national crisis that the federal government has to play more of a role in providing equity in education. You may remember in 1973 there was a case San Antonio v. Rodriguez where the Supreme Court essentially said, 'It's up to the states to provide equity.' Well, we have 45, over the course of a number of years, there have been 45 state educational equity cases filed, so clearly across the country this is an issue."