WPC's Education Reform Plan: Eight Practical Ways to Reverse the Decline of Public Schools

Dec 8, 2008

Education Reform PlanPublic education is in decline. Nearly one-third of Washington public school students fail to graduate, and another third graduate without the knowledge and skills necessary for college or the workplace.  Over half (52%) of public school students entering community or technical colleges must take remedial courses in math, English or reading to catch up. Eighty-four percent of employers say public schools are not doing a good job of preparing students to succeed in the workplace.

Today, Washington ranks 37th in the nation in graduation rates. Student failure rates are so high the legislature and the governor have canceled the math portion of the Washington assessment of Student Learning test (WASL) for the next five years.

Thirty-seven percent of freshmen attending a four-year university or two-year community college must take high school-level remedial math or reading courses, substantially decreasing the numbers of students able to overcome this handicap and complete the requirement for earning a college degree. Fewer young adults are making it through college than in the past.

Educational attainment by older working adults (ages 45-64) now exceeds that of younger adults (ages 25-34). Public educators’ failure to provide children with a level of learning that is as good or better than their parents is the worrisome finding of two recent government research reports:

“Our older population is better educated than our younger population, a trend that is clearly moving in the wrong direction.”

“Washington’s baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) are the most highly educated generation in our history. Younger adults in our state have, on average, less education than boomers.” [Emphasis in original.]

For the first time in history, public school officials are producing a generation of students who have less formal education than their parents.

Read the full Policy Brief here