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The Gap
What are World Class Schools??
  • Those which add value to all of their students:
  • No matter their talents and abilities
  • No matter their family background
  • Those that provide all students opportunities to be educated to the best they can be.
  • Those that help all students do the best they can do in all circumstances.
  • Does not just mean the top score on a common test.

"The aim of education, should be to teach us how to think, than what to think."


Too many students leave high school without the occupational and academic skills to succeed in the workplace or in postsecondary education.


  • Tennessee’s high school graduation rate is only 57% compared to 71% nationally
  • Tennessee ranks 48th out of 50 states
  • Only 57% of Tennessee’s teachers have a major in the subject they teach
  • Tennessee teacher’s pay is in the bottom third nationally
  • Tennessee ranks 46th in average spending per pupil
  • Only 20% of Tennessee’s high school graduates attend college
  • Only 50% of the 20% will graduate

According to John Stossel in his ABC program “Stupid in America,” American high school students scored:

  • 18th in Reading
  • 22nd in Science
  • 28th in Math
The United Health Foundation reports that Tennessee ranks:

  • 3rd highest in the number of people who smoke
  • 3rd highest in cardiovascular deaths
  • 3rd highest in infant mortality
  • 3rd highest in obesity
  • 4th highest in violent crimes
The United States ranks the highest throughout the industrialized world in:
  • Prisoners incarcerated
  • Death row inmates
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • The two largest concerns of employers are:
  • The lack of qualified employees
  • The high cost of health care
Schools Provide
  • Schools focus on individual performance
  • The school model emphasizes general education vs. work skills
  • Schools emphasize symbolic thinking

  • Schools attempt to instill general skills and knowledge
Business and Industry Need
  • Most non-school settings emphasize socially shared performance

  • Work makes available and even requires the use of cognitive tools

  • Business presents objects and situations which will aid in formulations and solutions

  • Effective performance outside school focuses on situation-linked knowledge and skills

There are common causes that can be attributed to these problems and statistics

  • Experts agree that High school dropout rates and income inequality are major contributors to many if not all of these problems of our society

Aleg-up Focuses on the Gap

Fixing Our Schools


Former Labor Secretary William Brock leads the New Commission on the Skills of The American Workforce, created to report on the state of U.S. education.



How can we fix American education? 

First, we have to agree that we have a problem.  In the last 25 years, spending has risen 240% while performance has barely changed.  Only 68% of students graduate from high school, and many states require only eight-grade skills in reading and math to get a diploma.  We need to start with better early-childhood education.  We need the very best among us to become teachers and we need to ensure that standardized tests of rote knowledge don’t drive education away from the very things that have mad America special: critical thinking, creativity, innovation and teamwork (emphasis added).

You’ve said publicly that we are failing our teachers.  How? 

We recruit new teachers largely from the bottom 30% of entering college students, train them, and then assign them to the toughest jobs in the most challenging schools with very low pay.  When the results fall short, we tell them, “You just have to work harder.”  Most feel that they have no voice in their schools.  This is no way to treat professionals.

Why isn’t education a bigger political issue? 

Primarily because there is no quick fix.  It’s complex.  Perhaps most of all, no one really wants to admit that we are leaving millions of children behind (emphasis added).  Education is the key to better jobs, higher incomes, and greater growth in what has become an extremely competitive global economy.  Nothing is more important than education.  Absolutely nothing (emphasis added).

(Reprinted from July 6, 2008 PARADE)