Demography Is Not Destiny

August 22, 2008

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Pacific Research Institute has put out a new study co-authored by PRI Senior Fellow Vicki Murray and some guy from Arizona comparing trends in academic achievement in California to those in Florida. Among the findings: Florida’s Hispanic students outscore the statewide average for all students in California on NAEP’s 4th Grade Reading Exam. Also, Florida’s Free and Reduced lunch eligible Hispanics outscore the statewide average for all students in California. After a decade of strong improvement in Florida, Florida’s African-American students are within striking distance of the statewide average for all students in California, and have already exceeded the statewide averages for all students in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Oh, and Florida’s free or reduced lunch eligible students attending inner city schools outscore the statewide average for all California students.

The point of all of this is not to bash California public schools, but instead to show just how much entirely plausible room for improvement exists. The question isn’t whether disadvantaged kids can learn. Yes they can! The question is whether we adults can get our acts together for the kids.


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