Improving education

By JOSE de la ISLA

Do you remember taking the SAT? It might have had a problem like this: “Pat needs two colors for a fashion design. She has green, black and red material. Which one will she not use?”

The answer is black. It is not a color.

Similarly, the Education Testing Service, the people who bring you the SAT, missed the mark in its recent study delineating the “factors” leading to a national economic wreck looming ahead for lack of education reform.

The public is already programmed to expect more teaching, more learning and verifying better education is the way to go.

However, ETS’s latest report, “America’s Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation’s Future,” says there’s something else to consider.

Retiring skilled baby boomers will be replaced by a less educated population, it says. So far, the analysis makes sense. But then it goes bonkers. It observes immigration, now at a high rate, will continue, and Hispanics are a large proportion of that population.

There you have it. The decline of American civilization is due to — uh –Hispanics.

ETS researchers could have said there is a national need for new methods to educate an immigrant population. They could have stated that 65,000 high school graduates are an oppressed class, barred from higher education opportunities because of their immigrant status.

It’s true that low-skill, low-education migrants depress the statistics. It’s true that many migrants are Hispanic. But not all Hispanics are migrants who depress educational advancement. The inference is insulting.

The responsibility lies with an underachieving education delivery system. Public-policy analysts shouldn’t obfuscate the issue by scape-goating.

The education establishment insists on bringing all attention to the schools and not on education. “School” is about buildings, administration, market share and operating the plant.

The United States spends more on primary and secondary education schooling than do most developed countries. Yet this country has larger classes, lower test scores and higher dropout rates than most other advanced industrialized countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.

Meanwhile, South Korea and other Asian nations are outpacing both the United States and Europe in grade-school and university education. Western economic dominance is threatened by our own education charade.

On the other hand, “education” is about the level of actual knowledge and learning, research and development in society. Growing in this direction is what really concerns the general public.

ETS itself previously reported in its study “One-Third of a Nation: Rising Dropout Rates and Declining Opportunities” some alternative ways to approach a combination of problems.

Teachers College researchers at Columbia University report U.S. taxpayers could gain $45 billion annually if the number of high school dropouts were cut in half. By bettering certain socioeconomic characteristics, the number of parents living at home, and frequently changing schools, dropout rates could be cut by 58 percent in 24 states.

In other words, the “perfect storm” already occurring is in the socioeconomic improvements that need attention.

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same failing thing over and over and expecting a different result? It wouldn’t hurt to put on our thinking caps and act rationally, just as they expect us to do on the SAT.

(Jose de la Isla, a former educator, is author of “The Rise of Hispanic Political Power, published by Archer Books. E-mail joseisla3(at)


  1. Teleri


    Black is a color, guys. At least in the fashion industry.

    That problem makes NO sense. I’m a seamstress & use black material all the time.

    Oh, & I got a 710 on the English SAT, so I guess I understand the test pretty well, also.

  2. Ray

    In the mid sixties congress changed the immigration law that once held the allowable number to a reasonable amount that the country could absorb without degrading wages, sevices, and the quality of life. Since that time the numbers of hispanics crossing into this country have expounded by the millions. At the current rate, five years from now society and infrastructure will collapse. There are charts that show this coming calamity. This is not about bigotry or prejudice, its about too many people in a given space. There is nothing that is beneficial to this uncontrolled influx of people. America is losing it’s identity and freedoms and opportunities. Congress allows this not by wise decisions, but by corporate favortism, and gaining votes to the democratic agenda. Go to Google Video and watch a short report called Immigration by the numbers. Don’t hesitate, just do it. This is a very well done report of numbers and shows where the country is going if the policy is not put back to where it was before the mid 60’s. It is every americans duty to view this report if you care about the future liveability in the US.

  3. Bill Jonke

    Red and green usually denotes Christmas and limits the criteria.

    You can do great things with black and red or black and green.

    Also, the designer would use the word “material.” The proper term would be “fabric.”

    I guess the SAT’s wouldn’t bode well with right-brainers.

  4. Wendy

    Black is NOT a color. Black is the absence of color while white is all the colors combined. It is a known fact of physics and art, although we do generally refer to it and white as colors. But, the test question is correct – black is not a color. And, material could be the items she is using to create the draft, not the prototype garment.

  5. Joe Lawrence

    There is ‘knowledge,’ and there is ‘flaunting of arcane technical knowledge.’


    What do you, Wendy, answer when asked, “What color denotes mourning?”

  6. Unicorn

    “Retiring baby boomers will be replaced by a less well educated population . . .” It’s already happening. For instance, schools aren’t teaching (Re: recent article from Harvard et al) history for one thing. The “atmosphere” in most high school seems to be one of “watching your back” than what used to pass for the satisfction of having learned something and looking forward to more in what used to be called “the groves of academe.” *sigh*

    Yes, I’m a retired teacher!!

  7. Michela Colosimo

    Please define “the education establishment.” Do you mean principals, school boards, The Administration in Wash. DC? Or do you mean teachers? If you mean teachers, then you are making a huge mistake. Teachers have very little power in the education process (trust me, I was a teacher) and therefore make very few decisions. Decisions are made at the top and handed down. When students are not doing well, teachers are always the scapegoat. Nothing is said about school boards and principals who cower to parents, or about parents themselves. Before I retired from teaching, we were indoctrinated during “in-service” days that we were supposed to run a school just like a business. One of my fellow teachers asked the question, “How can we make a cadillac when we only have chevy material to work with?” In other words, teachers can only do the best they can with the resources they are given and the students they have to deal with. No one, no matter how skilled, can make an Einstein out of a moron (take our president, for example.) Frankly, I am sick and tired of being blamed for every social ill. I am so glad that I am now retired.

  8. Our “education” system is actually a bureaucratization system. It educates people to measure everything according to shallow lower middle class values.