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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to NAEP Scores Release

April 10, 2018

“It is clear our nation’s education system continues to fail its mission of educating our children.” - Lennie Jarratt

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On Tuesday, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), more commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card, released its 2017 Reading and Mathematics test scores.

The following statements from education policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“It is clear our nation’s education system continues to fail its mission of educating our children. Overall test scores remain flat highlighting the one-size-fits all government school system does not meet the educational needs of all students. Education freedom is the solution to the problem. Education choice provides every child with the ability to pursue the education that fits their personal education needs.”

Lennie Jarratt
Project Manager, Education
The Heartland Institute

“When people are breathing a sigh of relief over stagnant NAEP scores, you know we’ve reached a thoroughly disheartening point in the history of American public education. It only means that roughly 60 percent of elementary and middle school students around the country can’t even test to proficiency in math or reading. By the time they’re getting ready to graduate high school, only one quarter of seniors test proficient in math, 24 percent in civics, 22 percent in science, and just 12 percent in U.S. history. 

Absent some nationwide educational Great Awakening, where legislators around the country suddenly embrace school choice, you’re never going to see significant changes in these scores. There simply is no meaningful incentive for public schools to change the way they do things. Only a competitive marketplace can do that, and that can only occur when every parent in the country has a choice in where to send their children to school.

Now, universal school choice may not dramatically alter these scores either, although I believe it will, but it isn’t surprising to me that Catholic school students once again tested significantly higher than their public school peers. What we do know for sure is that the status quo isn’t working, and that the public school monopoly is content to let the status quo play out until the end of time. Kids deserve better. Let’s start giving their parents options. How many more mediocre issues of this test need to happen before we let them do so?”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

Once again, the government- and union-dominated U.S. schools prove that they are mired in mediocrity. This is a nationwide problem, and a scandal.

“The poor academic achievement is not limited to inner-city schools—as if that would be any excuse anyway. No, government schools across the nation and in all income areas are failing to educate their students in the skills, knowledge, and civic understanding for which public schools were established in the first place.

No child should be forced to attend an inadequate school merely because the student’s parents can’t afford any alternative. All families should have the freedom to decide whether to imprison their children in our failed government school system or send them to schools of choice which garner students not by coercion but through academic achievement, a safe and orderly learning environment, and an understanding of the true history of this nation and its principles.

Government schools serve the government. Schools of choice serve the children, parents, and taxpayers. We need to reform the current, failed system thoroughly and immediately.

S.T. Karnick
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

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Lennie Jarratt is the project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at The Heartland Institute. @LennieJarratt
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department. @BenceAthwart
S.T. Karnick is the director of publications for The Heartland Institute.