New education reforms often translate into big money for private groups. Following the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, states paid millions of dollars annually for companies to develop and administer the standardized tests required under the law. Companies also cashed in on a provision mandating tutoring for students at struggling schools.
(AP Photo/Mel Evans) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
On an unseasonably warm evening last November, Glendalys Delgado lowered herself into a child-sized chair in the classroom of her youngest son, Juan, a second-grader at Thomas Dudley Elementary School in Camden, New Jersey. Juan's teacher, Shakira Wyche, sat next to her looking serious.
"You're going to be a little upset," Wyche told Delgado as she held up Juan's report card. A line of Fs trailed down the page. Juan is "very intelligent," perhaps the smartest in the class, the teacher said, but he refuses to work in class or do his homework. "I can't just give him straight-A's because I like him," Wyche said.
Last summer, Rebekah Robinson was called into her son Amari Jacob's charter school, Kings Collegiate in New York City, to meet with a counselor about Amari's grades. The good news was Amari had passed the state tests in math and reading. The bad news was his teachers thought he should repeat fifth grade anyway.
Robinson, a 43-year-old mother of two from Saint Lucia, knew the school in her neighborhood would have promoted her son to the next grade. But she was pleased the charter school was so strict. Although Amari was good at math and science, he'd struggled with reading since fourth grade, when he had attended his neighborhood school in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. "He could have gone on, but in his school work, we thought he was just not ready," Robinson says.
In this photo provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE officers check a tattoo to log any identifiable gang affiliation in Los Angeles, in this photo, date unknown during a nationwide summer crackdown. (AP Photo/ICE)
Jessica stood in a clearing in the woods where the ground was strewn with used condoms and broken bottles. Cicadas hummed in the country club grounds edging the campus of the Hempstead High School, a brick fortress with narrow windows and a weedy green lawn. Beyond the trees that separated the high school from the golf course, commuters from Eastern Long Island zipped along the expressway on their way to work in New York City. It was September of 2000, Jessica's first week of seventh grade, but she would not be going to class.