Fifty-five percent of California 9th graders flunked the new state exit test. According to Education Week (6-20-01), "fewer than 45% of the students who volunteered to take the test this past March were able to reach the minimum score of 60% in reading and 55% in mathematics." The test is slated to become mandatory for high school graduation in 2004. Nearly 81% of the state's freshmen agreed to take the exam, which was created to reflect California's new state standards.
An American Federation of Teachers press release celebrating the U.S. Senate defeat of vouchers contained a misspelling. In its rush to crow over the chamber's rejection of a school voucher proposal in the massive federal education bill, AFT president Sandra Feldman stated: "Why waste time on voucher programs that pedal false hopes?" Unfortunately, electronic spellcheck doesn't work on homonyms - memorization of basic facts is still essential.
A Washington, DC city councilman has proposed lowering the compulsory age for public school attendance to three. If Councilman Kevin Chavous has his way, DC toddlers will be giving up Big Bird for book bags. Chavous told the Washington Post last month that enrolling three- and four-year-olds in the city's schools "would force the school system to take charge and responsibility. . . to make sure they are prepared for kindergarten."
The national PTA kicked off a multi-million dollar public relations campaign at its annual convention in June. Designed to position the organization as a "grassroots" advocate of children, the campaign was developed in response to the negative image the PTA has earned in recent years by supporting the left-wing political agenda of the NEA and the Democratic party. Although claiming to be non-partisan, the PTA opposes school vouchers, tuition tax credits and state-to-state, district-to-district and school-to-school comparisons of student academic achievement, while supporting reduced class sizes and more federal spending for education.