Friday, January 28, 2005

Public School News

You know when I write about public schools, it's rarely going to be good news. Here's today's dose of the bad...

A Brooklyn teacher has been arrested for convincing a friend to slash her principal's face with a boxcutter, causing cuts that required more than 150 stitches.

Previously in the Big Apple, the principal of a troubled city school in Harlem was arraigned after cops caught her driving drunk - and urinating in a Bronx street - when she was supposed to be at work. She had prior arrests for marijuana posession and shoplifting.

A Schenectady, NY middle school girl's uncle is serving in Iraq. To show support for him, she made a red, white and blue beaded necklace and wore it to school. The school's administrators made her remove the necklace, saying that beads are gang-related.

A senior at Haverford High School in Haverford, Pennsylvania has been suspended for taking Aleve. The girl, an honor roll student, had taken a generic version of Aleve for cramps. When the discomfort continued, she visited the school nurse. She said she had taken Aleve earlier, and that's when the zero-tolerance stupidity began. "Self-medicating" is a violation of the school's zero-tolerance drug policy.


How Do Our Public School Students Compare To Those Around The World?

According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released last month...

Among the top 40 industrialized nations, at the fourth-grade level, American students were nine points above the average in science and 11 points below it in math, putting them almost dead average overall. At the eighth-grade level, American students were four points below average in science and 24 points below average in math, putting them clearly, but not abysmally, below the rich-country average.

Many nations that typically outscore the United States in math and science at the eighth-grade level did not participate in TIMSS 2003. Those countries include France, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Finland, Switzerland, Iceland and Poland.

But while they skipped TIMSS 2003, they all participated in another test of mathematics and science: the 2003 Program on International Student Achievement (PISA). Every one of those countries significantly outscored the United States on the PISA test. In math, Canada bested us by 49 points, while Finland outscored us by 61. In science, France and Switzerland beat us by 20 and 22 points, respectively. If all of these nations had participated in TIMSS 2003, it seems likely that U.S. performance at the eighth-grade level would have been considerably further below the average of industrialized nations than it already was.