Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Crowd asked to stand up for education

Figures ignite call for action

It wasn't the food that made many at Tuesday's Eggs 'N Issues breakfast feel queasy. It was Helen Carroll's statistics.

Carroll took the discomfort she caused as a positive sign that Northern Kentuckians may be ready to attack difficult education issues.

"I'm going to share with you a few statistics that might make you concerned, might make you have a little uncomfortable feeling after breakfast in the pit of your stomach - might even make you a little bit mad," said Carroll, local manager of community relations at Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc. She also is the point person for the Vision 2015 initiative's Education Summit, to be held Nov. 14 at Northern Kentucky University's METS Center in Erlanger.

"As I'm sharing some of these statistics with you, if you feel that way - if you have a little something in the pit in your stomach or these make you a little concerned - as I'm reading, will you stand in your place, and remain standing?" Carroll asked.

"Federal, state and local governments spend $200 billion each year on the criminal justice system - 200 billion dollars," she said. "Five percent of that, or $10 billion, would be enough to more than double the public preschool education budget for children living in poverty."

A few people stood.

"Kindergarten readiness is the most important priority for school success, and this region's long-term economic health," Carroll said. "In the Greater Cincinnati region, data have shown that 50 percent of kindergartners are not prepared for first grade."

More people stood after that and each fact she cited.

"More than 50 percent of students entering colleges in the Greater Cincinnati area require remediation in at least one subject," she said.

"Students requiring remediation are six times less likely to graduate from college," she added.

"Kentucky spends over $52 million each year to provide community-college remediation education for recent high school graduates who do not (acquire) the basic skills necessary to succeed in college or work," she said.

"Seven out of 10 high school graduates enter college without completing courses needed to succeed in college or work," she said.

"Out of 100 ninth-graders, only 15 will graduate from college," she said.

"Last year, Kentucky graduated only one physics teacher," she said. "That means teachers with history or English degrees are teaching physics. There are many more similar examples of teachers teaching outside of their career fields."

"Dropouts from the Class of 2006 will cost the state more than $4.8 billion in lost wages and taxes over their lifetimes," she concluded.

Nearly all the business people and government officials in the large Gardens of Park Hills banquet hall were standing.

This from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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