Parents responsible for declining SAT scores

by Mike Heral

SAT scores have dropped again. According to The College Board, a not-for-profit educational advocacy organization, revealed that only 43 percent of high school graduates class of 2012 were college ready. It would be easy to wag a finger and call today’s youth incompetent. It would also be blaming the victim. Real blame lies with the generations preceding today’s high school students. They failed to position the U.S. for success in today’s demanding environment.

It’s not a surprise children need a stable home in order to thrive. Divorce rates are twice what they were during the 1950s, and children are always victims during a divorce. One less parent in the house is one less parent helping with homework and attending parent-teacher conferences.

Sadly, noneducational time killers too often fill the gap left by an absence of supervision. The good news is according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the divorce rate is receding from its all-time high. It’s one area where society appears to be learning the error of its ways. The key appears to be marrying later in life. And one key to marrying later in life is substituting youthful indiscretion with post-secondary education.

Finance, though, is clearly an area where Americans remain far from being responsible. It’s insanity to raid money set aside for education to offset budget deficits. Yet, it’s precisely what legislators do today. It’s the wrong policy as U.S. education falls farther behind other nations. Today’s highly technical job market requires advanced education. But instead of keeping necessary education and training pipelines open, we’ve choked it off by depriving funding. Of the 23 California State University schools, nine were forced to accept less than 50 percent of applicants because they had to cut infrastructure.

At San Diego State, all degree programs are now over-enrolled to the point of being restricted. Even now, CSU threatens to accept only out-of- state students in 2013-14. It’ll keep getting worse until either enrollment approaches absurdly low levels, or Californians recommit to funding education. Imagine how discouraging this must be to a student about to take the SAT. It’s even more discouraging when students understand the lucky few getting through the enrollment gate will graduate saddled with debt and diminished chances for employment.

I spend a lot of time around high school students because I umpire high school baseball games. Baseball is as much cerebral as it is athletic; therefore, I can attest high school students are more than capable of handling the rigors of college. Since they are capable, the question remains: Why are the test scores low?

Another answer is schools haven’t kept up with the times. Today’s students are more computer-savvy, but we are asking them to learn via old- school methods. Textbooks and blackboards are so 1970. Clearly, schools need a new way to foster students into the love of learning. Magnet and private schools excel at this, but there are only so many, and at-risk children can’t afford them.

It’s an important fact because College Board argues an increase in nontraditional test takers is one cause for the drop in SAT scores. Minorities are participating more than ever before, which is incredible, not only because minorities see college within reach, but also because it shines a light on education’s socioeconomic disparities. Minorities’ lagging SAT scores are an indictment of U.S. social politics. The U.S. should’ve stopped being a racially selective land of opportunity a century ago.

Legilators continue to financially deprive inner city schools, as well as pursue sociopolitical agendas disadvantageous to families dependent upon them. The result is a dropout rate of nearly 50 percent in schools in the country’s 50 largest cities. In addition, the Chicago Tribune reports children of welfare families hear 30 million fewer words than those born into upper-class families. That’s not throughout the lifetime of the child, by the way. That’s by the time the child turns 3 years old.

The U.S. has lost the educational and innovative edge it once took for granted. It isn’t the fault of tomorrow’s adults, but they will be the ones to pay if today’s adults can’t put aside destructive bickering and finally do what’s in America’s best interest. After all, nothing less than the future of the American experiment is riding on the outcome.

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