Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States

Erica L. Green and Dana Goldstein

The New York TimesOctober 30, 2019

WCSD 84% High School Graduation Rate; 52% Reading  Proficiency

Over half our graduates cannot read; The problem starts in Grammar School

WASHINGTON — The average eighth grade reading score on a nationally representative test declined among public school students in more than half of the states, according to data released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Education Department.

The dismal results were part of the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card.” The test assesses a sample of fourth and eighth grade students — more than 290,000 in each subject in 2019 — every other year.

“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the center, said in a statement.

Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary

Such findings will inevitably prompt demands for policy change. In a statement, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is championing a $5 billion school choice program, said that the results “must be America’s wake-up call.”

“We can neither excuse them away, nor simply throw more money at the problem,” she said.

That vision is in stark contrast to the one that has emerged in the Democratic presidential primary. All the leading candidates have suggested spending billions more federal dollars on traditional public schools, and two of the front-runners — Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — have proposed slowing the growth of the charter school sector.

The losses on the national exam were steepest for students who had been struggling the most, a segment that is the focus of many school reform policies.

Eighth graders at the bottom 10th percentile of reading achievement lost 6 points on the exam compared with similar students two years ago, while students at the 50th percentile lost 3 points and students at the 90th percentile — top achievers — lost only 1 point.

“Eighth grade is a transitional point in preparing students for success in high school, so it is critical that researchers further explore the declines we are seeing here,” Carr said.

White, black, Hispanic, Native American and multiracial students all lost ground in eighth grade reading, while there was no significant change for Asian students.

Washington, one of 27 cities to participate in a separate analysis of urban school systems, was the only city or state to see significant improvement in eighth grade reading, according to a federal analysis of the data.

This year, 31 states noted a drop of 2 to 7 points in their average eighth grade reading score — which the federal government deemed significant — compared with their performances in 2017. Indiana, New Hampshire and Virginia were the states with the largest declines among eighth graders.

Fourth grade reading scores dropped in 17 states, with New Jersey having the largest decline, 6 points; only one state, Mississippi, improved, the data showed.

States’ average math scores fared considerably better, particularly among fourth graders. Nine states had significant increases in fourth grade math, compared with 2017 numbers, with Mississippi again leading the pack. The eighth grade score in three states improved, while six noted a decline.

While the most recent results are disappointing, trends in student achievement look more positive over the long term. American students have made large gains in math and small gains in reading since 1990, but those improvements began to level out around 2009. There is no consensus among experts as to why.

The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban school systems, said it saw a hopeful story in the new data. Over the past two decades, students in cities have moved closer to national achievement averages in both math and reading.

“The fact that large city schools have cut their performance gap with the nation in about half is even more remarkable when you consider that our schools have substantially more poor students and English-language learners than the average public school across the nation,” the group said in a statement. Such results “suggest that the nation’s urban public schools are adding substantially more educational value than the average school.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is considered a “low stakes” exam, because schools and teachers do not lose funding, pay or autonomy based on how their students perform. Some researchers consider the test the gold-standard measure of learning nationwide, while others argue it is unfair to judge schools using an exam that may have little connection to the material teachers cover in the classroom.

DeVos said the 2019 scores reflected a “student achievement crisis,” where progress had stalled, two out of three children were not proficient readers, and outcomes continued to worsen for the most vulnerable students.

“Every American family needs to open the nation’s report card this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country’s future,” she said. “The results are, frankly, devastating.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Trump, the Democrats, the Media and Impeachment

By Ron Knecht – 8October2019

If you’re confused and somewhat bewildered by the efforts of Democrats and mainstream media (MSM) to impeach President Donald Trump – well, it’s not your fault.  I hesitate to address the subject, but I’ll try to provide some perspective.

The Dems first mentioned impeaching Trump about two days after his election.  From then on, they had an ever-growing list of reasons they said merit impeachment – or none at all beyond their inability to accept that he won.  The real reason they want to impeach him is that they despise him and his supporters.  One anti-Trump Deep Stater calls us “smelly WalMart people.”

The Dems and MSM first assured us Trump’s 2016 election campaign won by collusion with Russia.  Allegedly the Russians spent some six-figure amount (well less than $1-million) for on-line ads that defeated Hillary Clinton.  Those Russkies must be pretty clever because many other parties spent many millions for on-line and other communications and failed to achieve such impact.

What actually happened was the Clinton campaign had hired a law firm with connections to the “intelligence community.”  That firm hired an unreliable British spy to work with his Russian contacts to dig up dirt on Trump and subvert his campaign.  He produced the “Steele Dossier,” some poor ammunition for the Clinton campaign that even he admitted wasn’t reliable.

Meantime, the Deep State conspirators atop the FBI and CIA and throughout the Obama administration were working at their president’s behest on illegal investigations and fraudulent court filings to cripple the Trump campaign.  When he was elected, these efforts continued, now seeking to undermine his administration and remove him by any means necessary.

The means included the Mueller investigation, which the Dems and MSM assured us continuously was about to provide conclusive evidence of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with the Russians and other illegal acts.  They skated over the fact collusion is not a crime, let alone one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” needed to impeach.

In Congressional hearings, Robert Mueller admitted he did not investigate the substantial collusion of the Clinton campaign with Russians that had been documented.  Evidence surfaced recently that at least one Deep Stater in the Trump administration secretly communicated with Mueller during the investigation.  Others were part of his Democrat investigation team.

But the Mueller team failed to find any criminal activity by Trump or his campaign.  They did range far afield and played hardball, including vicious pre-dawn SWAT-type raids and solitary confinement for persons who had not been convicted of any crime.  They did so to secure some tainted confessions unrelated to their basic mission and charge some Russians on other matters.

We were assured by Dems and the MSM the investigation would find clear basis for Trump’s impeachment.  When it failed to do so, they became desperate.

So, another Deep State intelligence officer came forward with a “whistle blower” complaint that in a phone call with the new Ukrainian leader Trump made a quid pro quo (this for that) deal that Ukraine would investigate Joe Biden’s son to help Trump’s campaign.  But this person had no first-hand knowledge about the call and was merely repeating lies his fellow Deep Staters fed him.

When the call transcript came out, there was no quid pro quo in the conversation and mention of Biden only by Ukraine’s leader.

Even if the discussion implicated a Ukrainian investigation of Biden, there was good basis for it.  Biden himself admitted in recorded public comments that he used a threat to withhold authorized aid to Ukraine to force firing of a prosecutor investigating a corrupt deal in which his son got great riches from a Ukraine gas company.

So, Trump had a constitutional duty – not just discretion – to seek Ukraine’s aid in this matter: His charge in our constitution to enforce our laws.

The Dems, MSM and the Deep Staters simply ignored this fundamental point and decided to use the matter as their major excuse to raise impeachment.  Under their interpretation, anyone could violate American law in cahoots with foreign actors and then become a candidate for president – and the actual president couldn’t seek the other country’s investigatory help.

Sweet!

For them, it’s verdict first and then trial.

More soon.

Ron Knecht has served Nevada as state controller, a higher education regent, college teacher, economist and legislator.  Contact him at RonKnecht@aol.com.

New Nevada Democrat Law Helps Sex Traffickers And Protects Black Market Abortions

New reforms will make Nevada one of the least restrictive states in the nation for abortion. The legislation will ease requirements that doctors tell pregnant patients the “emotional implications” of an abortion, says NPR. The SB179 law, “Trust Nevada Women Act,” was passed on a near party-line vote.

It also removes criminal abortion penalties. This includes lifting the requirements that a physician certify in writing that a patient gave their consent freely without coercion and age verification. The state also decriminalized people who are unqualified by state standards to give abortions. It also prevents witnesses from testifying against black-market abortions.

This could make it easier for sex traffickers to force a child-victim to lie about their age if the physician asks. It also makes it easier for traffickers to hire black-market abortionists without criminal penalty.

In 2009, the FBI identified Las Vegas as one of the 14 cities with the highest child prostitution rates in the country. Over the summer, the FBI saved 14 children from child traffickers. According to Las Vegas FBI spokeswoman, Sandy Breault, “The local victims were between 14 and 17 years old while all the suspected traffickers were adults.”

Take a look at how our lawmakers voted on SB179:

State Assembly
Assefa, Alexander (Yea )
Backus, Shea (Yea )
Benitez-Thompson, Teresa (Yea )
Bilbray-Axelrod, Shannon (Yea )
Carlton, Maggie (Yea )
Carrillo, Richard (Yea )
Cohen, Lesley (Yea )
Daly, Skip (Yea )
Duran, Bea (Yea )
Edwards, Chris (Nay )
Ellison, John (Nay )
Flores, Edgar (Yea )
Frierson, Jason (Yea )
Fumo, Ozzie (Yea )
Gorelow, Michelle (Yea )
Hafen, Gregory (Nay )
Hambrick, John (Excused )
Hansen, Alexis (Nay )
Hardy, Melissa (Nay )
Jauregui, Sandra (Yea )
Kramer, Al (Nay )
Krasner, Lisa (Nay )
Leavitt, Glen (Nay )
Martinez, Susie (Yea )
McCurdy, William (Yea )
Miller, Brittney (Yea )
Monroe-Moreno, Daniele (Yea )
Munk, Connie (Yea )
Neal, Dina (Nay )
Nguyen, Rochelle (Yea )
Peters, Sarah (Yea )
Roberts, Tom (Nay )
Smith, Greg (Yea )
Spiegel, Ellen (Yea )
Swank, Heidi (Yea )
Titus, Robin (Nay )
Tolles, Jill (Nay )
Torres, Selena (Yea )
Watts, Howard (Yea )
Wheeler, Jim (Nay )
Yeager, Steve (Yea )
District No. 17 (Vacant)

Nevada Senate Votes

Brooks, Chris (Yea )
Cancela, Yvanna (Yea )
Cannizzaro, Nicole (Yea )
Denis, Moises (Nay )
Dondero Loop, Marilyn (Yea )
Goicoechea, Pete (Nay )
Hammond, Scott (Nay )
Hansen, Ira (Nay )
Hardy, Joseph (Nay )
Harris, Dallas (Yea )
Kieckhefer, Ben (Yea )
Ohrenschall, James (Yea )
Parks, David (Yea )
Pickard, Keith (Nay )
Ratti, Julia (Yea )
Scheible, Melanie (Yea )
Seevers Gansert, Heidi (Nay )
Settelmeyer, James (Nay )
Spearman, Pat (Yea )
Washington, Marcia (Nay )
Woodhouse, Joyce (Yea )

Gov. Steve Sisolak Calls For Special Cannabis Task Force To Take On Alleged Adam Laxalt Corruption

Gov. Steve Sisolak says he is “outraged” that foreign national tried to get into Nevada’s legal marijuana business by giving political donations to key people in the state. He called for an immediate creation of a multi-agency task force to “root out potential corruption or criminal influences.”

The statement came day after a grand jury handed down an indictment charging four Eastern European businessman with campaign finance violations. The newest allegations are that one of businessman donated money to Republican Adam Laxalt through a Super PAC for the purpose of getting through red tape surrounding getting into the marijuana industry. There is no proof that Laxalt had anything to do with it and the allegations come from this recent indictment.

“I was very disappointed to see that any criminal activity would take place and that they would try to infiltrate the marijuana licensing procedure in the state of Nevada and affect our election process,” Sisolak said in a phone interview on Friday afternoon, adding that the activity “as a candidate, concerned me, and as governor, is my responsibility to make sure doesn’t happen, at any level.”

Sisolak said that the task force had been talked about previously after the end of the last legislative session.

“We’re going to use every avenue available to me as governor and so as not to compromise their abilities or the integrity of the investigation I’m not going to disclose who those folks are,” Sisolak said. “I can tell you that I’m committed to using every resource in the state of Nevada to root out the corruption and criminal activity as it might be occurring in the legal marijuana marketplace.”

Sisolak signed a bill in the spring to create a Cannabis Compliance Board similar to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Sisolak says he is disappointed “in the lack of oversight and the inaction from the state over many years that led us to this critical juncture.”

“I imagine there have been … hundreds of thousands of transactions,” Sisolak said. “It seems highly strange to me that among all of those transactions, there were none that would have been referred to criminal prosecution.”

Marijuana Banking Could Be Coming To Nevada After Historic House Vote

A marijuana bill could revolutionize the operations of Nevada’s cannabis industry after passing last week in the United States House of Representatives. This was the first standalone cannabis bill in history to do so.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act Allows Marijuana dispensaries and cultivators to work with banks and credit unions. Previously, they were restricted to operating in cash because of federal illegality.

Cannabis businesses have faced “a logistical nightmare,” said Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association. Marijuana businesses are currently forced to hoard cash – leading to security concerns.

Nevada’s Dina Titus was one of the 206 co-sponsors of the bill which passed the House of Representatives 321-103. Nearly all Democrats voted for it and half of Republicans voted for it.

“If we’re going to tax (marijuana) and get benefits for our schools and our roads and community services, we need to have a better accounting of it,” Titus said. “Being able to do banking, you can do that.

Marijuana became recreationally legal in Nevada on Jan. 1, 2017.

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