Florida’s High School Graduation Rates – a Shocking Report

For the first time ever, new data details just how many students by race are not graduating high school in each state. The data, released by the US Department of Education, measures how many ninth graders graduate with a standard diploma within four years.

The 2010-2011 results indicate that affirmative action may be a failure.

As Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray in The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life state, “The practice of affirmative action has been a classic example of the ‘everything not forbidden is compulsory’ mentality, as the idea of forbidding people to discriminate by race mutated into the idea of compelling everyone to help produce equal outcomes by race.” Herrnstein and Murray noted, “It is a mark of how far things have gone that many people no longer can see the distinction between ‘not interfering’ and ‘treating the same’.”

Have we reached that point where the data shows that efforts to interject fairness into our education system have failed?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students succeed. Ultimately these data will help states target support to ensure more students graduate on time, college and career.”

The School Year 2010-11 Four-Year Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates for Florida are:

All Students – 71%
American Indian/Alaska Native or Native American – 70%
Asian/Pacific Islander – 86%
Black (not Hispanic) or African American – 59%
Hispanic/Latino – 69%
White (not Hispanic) or Caucasian – 76%
Children with disabilities (IDEA) – 44%
Limited English proficient (LEP) Students – 53%
Economically Disadvantaged Students – 60%
Asian – 86%

What does this data tell us? Nothing new really.

Asian and white students graduate at a higher rate than blacks and Hispanic/Latinos. Economically disadvantaged students do one percentage point better than black students. The District of Columbia has the worst graduation rate in the nation at 59%, while Iowa has the highest at 88%.

According to Take Part, “Despite the District of Columbia State Board of Education being only 1.4 miles (a walk through the capital building) from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s office, Washington, D.C. ranked dead last in national graduation rates at 59 percent. D.C. boasts the largest disparity in the country between white students and minority students who graduated during the 2010-2011 school year. Eighty-five percent of white students graduated, while only 55 percent of Latinos and 58 percent of black students earned their diploma. Iowa graduated 88 percent of students. Every major racial and ethnic group had a graduation rate over 73 percent.”

While Secretary Duncan points out this data is a snap shot, it is revealing in that it tells us what we are doing in public education is not working.

Graduating from high school is a key indicator of future success, even more so than a college degree. Studies show that states have been lowering standards for graduation. States and the federal government have poured more money into education than any other industrialized nation. Yet public schools are not graduating our young. Millions of our youth are without a high school diploma, even one that is watered down to the point of becoming meaningless.

With nearly 7000 students dropping out each day, a study from the Alliance for Excellent Education predicts that 12 million students will drop out in the next decade.

Herrnstein and Murray found, “As of the end of the twentieth century, the United States is run by rules that are congenial to people with high IQs and that make life difficult for everyone else … The systems have been created, bit by bit, over decades, by people who think that complicated, sophisticated operationalizations of fairness, justice, and right and wrong are ethically superior to simple black and white versions.”

The data is black and white. Will we continue as a nation to force the Utopian ideal of equal outcomes on the education system, or not? Are equal outcomes achievable? Is doing the same thing getting different results? These are the questions.

Herrnstein and Murray suggest as their first policy prescription: A wide range of social functions should be restored to the neighborhoods when possible and otherwise to the municipality. Perhaps it is time to get back to neighborhood schools?