Common Core and our failing high schools

Common Core and our failing high schools

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Common Core and our failing high schools. Too many high schools are graduating students who are “not ready” for college, achieving under 21 on ACT testing.

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

When I was young, if my grade point average was under 60 percent, I flunked.

The grading system we used then applies today: A=90+; B=80+; C=70+; D=60+; F=59-.

I struggled to stay above 70, a C, which meant I really wasn’t doing well at all.

I know how important a teacher can be in high school. I had a good teacher in my junior year at Reavis High school in Burbank (my 4th high school after Bowen, Bogan and Little Flower) who refocused me. I was flunking English and she suggested I write for the school Newspaper, The Blueprint. By my senior year, I was named Editor-in-Chief.

These days, apparently, schools don’t seem to care about students at all. What they care about is A) making sure they get government funds to pay teachers and administrators; and B) making sure teachers get big salaries and outrageous pensions.

Teachers immediately respond, “hey, we don’t get Social Security.” But some of the state’s worst and most outrageous pensions belong to former teachers, so you know the system is screwed up. More than 6,000 teachers in Illinois receive retirement pensions greater than $100,000, according to “Open Books.”

Lyons Township High school

Lyons Township High school

A recent study shows that most students in Illinois are graduating below national standards. More than half of Illinois high school graduates can’t even meet the national ACT average of 21, which means they received poor educations and are not “ready for college.”

Most high schools in this region are pathetic, according to

Carl Sandburg High school in Orland Park, supposedly one of the best in the southwest suburbs, only graduates 60 percent of its students as being “ready for college. The other 40 percent can’t even meet the 21 ACT average.

60 percent is barely a D, and almost an F.

Amos Alonzo Stagg High school, in Palos Heights, apparently isn’t a high school at all. Only 46 percent are “ready for college” and that’s worse than an F. Like most southwest suburban schools, it’s just a daycare center.

Only 57 percent of graduates at Victor J. Andrew High school in Tinley Park are “ready for college.” And that’s an F, too.

Tinley Park High school and Oak Lawn High school are so bad, only 37 percent of their graduates are “ready for college.”

I’m sorry to say only 33 percent of graduates at Reavis High school are “ready for college.”

Argo Community High school is the worst at 32 percent, making me wonder if they can even be allowed to call themselves a “high school.”

Let’s not waste our time looking at Chicago high schools. They are so bad it explains why Chicago has such a high murder rate. At Bogan High school, (which expelled me for being “too dark” in 1969) only 8 percent of graduates are “ready for college.”

8 Percent!

What are all these teachers doing?

Maybe high school administrators might want to turn to Lyons Township High school where 74 percent of its graduates are leaving “ready for college.”

Many parents believe part of the problem is “Common Core,” a new education system that Illinois embraced five years ago.

It’s not working folks. Our schools really are terrible.

I used to joke when I would meet someone who couldn’t speak English, asking, “Who learned you English?”

Now I wonder if that shouldn’t be Illinois’ Education Motto!

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Email him at

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania