Saturday, October 07, 2006

Black kids' underachievement gap widens in MCPS

Do the superintendent and school board really give a hoot about black kids?

SAT scores show that the Montgomery County Public Schools system is keeping black kids down while white kids continue to achieve.

Much of the reason is due to the MCPS policy of forbidding minority families from using vouchers to place their kids in better schools.

"The terrible irony is that by keeping parental choice out, opponents trap minority students in underperforming public schools that have exhausted millions of tax dollars for decades on failed efforts to close the academic achievement gap. Year after year, minority kids are cheated out of good educations," according to the Washington Examiner.

"In the Montgomery County Public Schools, for example, the average mean SAT score for black students during the last two years of Superintendent Paul Vance’s tenure was 216 points lower than the score for white students. By the second year of current Superintendent Jerry Weast’s reign, the gap increased to 238 points. By Weast’s fifth year, the gap was up to 246 points. For the current year, the gap is 254 points."

The Examiner editorial, published October 6, continues: "The situation is similarly discouraging when the performance of black male students is compared with other student groups within MCPS. On the Maryland State Department of Education English Proficiency tests, 63.7 percent of black males in MCPS scored at only the basic proficiency level of achievement. That’s actually lower than the 67.2 percent of black males scoring at Basic Proficiency in Prince George’s County Public Schools.

"Weast rightly touts increased SAT participation rates for MCPS minority students, but the bottom line on scores is getting worse, not better. Clearly, it’s time for some new thinking and approaches, which is most readily encouraged when parents have more choices about their where their children go to school. That such choice also appears to result in more, not less integration is the added bonus."