Reimagining Education

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Guess what scares us on Halloween?

Tomorrow the streets will be filled with witches, vampires, and other scary things that go bump in the night, all out seeking sweet treats and a few frights.

It is the time of year to seek out scary things.

Here at CEAM there is one thing that scares us on a constant basis, but that fear is not caused by mythical creatures or spooky killers.

Our fear is for the future of all children in Missouri.

Our state has come a long way toward improving education in the past couple of decades, but we are still far behind where we need to be to ensure that EVERY child has access to a quality education which will give them a path to a bright future.


Missouri student performance is scary

In 2016, only 59 percent of Missouri 8th graders were proficient in English Language Arts, only 28 percent were proficient in math, and only 48 percent were proficient in science.

The scores are even scarier for minority students. For example, only 36 percent of African-American 8th graders were proficient in ELA, only 13 percent were proficient in math, and only 19 percent were proficient in science.

Those are some pretty scary statistics, especially when you consider how it impacts the future, not only of our students but of the state.


Low education achievement paints scary picture of the future

Employment experts predict that 60 percent of all jobs in the United States will require a post-secondary degree by 2020 and that 50 percent of those jobs will require a four-year college degree.

Not only will more jobs require higher education, but studies show that those with higher degrees consistently earn more and are much less likely to face unemployment.

Equally important is the impact that a poorly educated workforce can have on economic development in Missouri.

Leaders in both the St. Louis region and Kansas City region have recently called for growth in the high-tech labor pool, based on the existing needs of local companies — that need will only grow as the workforce becomes more and more automated.


School choice can offer hope

The scary reality is that many students in Missouri are trapped in a school that is not meeting their needs simply because of the zip code that they live in.

Thankfully there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

States across the country are seeing improvements in their education outcomes thanks to the expansion of school choice.

A recent study by the Urban Institute showed that students participating in Florida school choice programs had a higher likelihood of attending college than students attending a traditional district school.

In his new book Reinventing America’s Schools, David Osborne details how increasing school choice in New Orleans and Washington D.C. has led to gains in test scores, school performance scores, graduation and dropout rates.

Other studies show that expanding school choice lead to decreases in crime and even help to improve the performance of existing traditional district schools.

It is time for Missouri to other states around the country and move forward with meaningful education reforms that will give more Missouri students access to high-quality school choices.

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