Arkansas students are lagging behind. We can do better

Arkansas Kids 2012: Our students are lagging behind, we can do better

At Arkansas Advocates we have the great fortune of dealing with committed national partners on behalf of improving the lives and opportunities for children. One of those partners is Voices for America’s Children, an advocacy organization with affiliates nationwide. Voices works across the country on state and federal policy issues to improve the lives of all children, especially the most vulnerable, and their families. Like AACF, Voices works in a bipartisan way finding policy solutions to provide kids with the best opportunity to succeed in life.

One area we both work on regularly is childhood education. Voices recently produced a stunning report on the school-readiness of the nation’s fourth graders. Arkansas students lagged behind national trends according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress standards. According to the Voices analysis, Arkansas fourth graders have only a 30% proficiency rate in reading and only 37% of fourth graders display proficiency in math. These rankings put Arkansas in the bottom half nationally in both categories.

We owe it to our children to make sure they have the skills needed to compete in a global marketplace. If we want Arkansas to be viewed as a desirable location for businesses to base their operations, we need to provide them with an educated workforce both now and into the future. Tax breaks may entice a company in the short-term, but they will no doubt leave if they cannot find workers. Let’s be sure to invest in our future by providing the funding our schools need to educate the next generation of Arkansas workers.