Here, we'll give you the good news first: The U.S. Department of Education is handing out $3.5 billion to America's worst-performing schools this year! And lord (slash Obama) knows they need it.
However, upon reviewing the list of public schools eligible to receive a School Improvement Grant (SIG) -- or, the most horrid black holes of non-education from sea to shining sea -- we came across some unsettling, if unsurprising, data.
California leads the nation by a longshot [Spotted at Mother Jones].
The National Center for Education Evaluation used the following criteria to determine which schools were eligible for the grants:
(1) A school's overall academic achievement level
(2) whether there is a "lack of progress" in the school, and
(3) for high schools, whether the school has a graduation rate below 60 percent.
Of 15,277 schools deemed eligible across 49 states, a brain-draining 2,720 are located in California. And we can't even blame it on the fact that we're the largest U.S. state, because our percentage of underperforming schools is right up there in the Top 5 as well.
(Washington D.C. does take a landslide win/loss in that respect; over 50 percent of its schools qualified for grants. Ouch. How fitting, though, that America's most polarized division between capitalist politics and the poverty they create is on display in the Capitol, no?)
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In the end, only 96 failing California schools were awarded a federal grant, including nine in the Los Angeles Unified School District. So what about the other 2,624?
Well, we could start by convincing Republican legislators to preserve some semblance of proper education funding -- or at least to let us vote to pay for it ourselves.
Even then, though, classroom curriculums need a major shakeup. The teachers union and schools like Huntington Park High may be resistant to reform, but if we don't try something new soon... well, our prisons will probably implode and China will probably employ us all in sweatshops one day soon. Yet here we are, spending our time fighting stuff like awesome street art and well-loved skate ramps. Sigh.