DEAR EDITOR:

Here we go again. Another education issue to distract us. This time it is vouchers. Several counties in Georgia, including Polk, have spent millions on new buildings and specialized college and career academies with little significant impact on overall school wide student academic performance. Like these efforts, the arguments around vouchers simply serve to detract from the main issue bearing on secondary education in America, which is a 50-year unrelenting trend of tragically declining academic achievement.

According to the leading international comparison effort by the Program for International Student Assessment, 15-year-olds in the United States rank a pitiful 38 out of 71 measured countries in math and science. Like all other areas of human performance, improvement will come from higher standards and more time on tasks related to those standards. In secondary education, the most glaring opportunities for promoting higher student achievement reside with more total class time and much more teacher-graded homework.

Buildings, sparkly technology, academies, vouchers? The Titanic has been slowly sinking for half a century and we continue to debate what color to paint the deck chairs.

Sincerely,

Perry Barret, Rockmart

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