RENDERED UNEMPLOYABLE BY THEIR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION. That's my evaluation of the performance of too many of the common schools. Now comes Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews with the same assessment.

I am convinced that the problem is not colleges putting up too many financial obstacles in the way of bright kids, but public school systems failing to give our many potentially successful high schoolers -- and their elementary and middle school siblings -- the academic skills and working habits they need to be ready for college.

Average reading and math achievement for 17-year-olds is like my patience with traffic jams: It has not noticeably improved in the past 30 years. Low-income students with good brains continue to perform poorly in large part, I think, because they attend high schools run by people who don't believe such kids can learn very much and who don't try very hard to teach them. Educators who do believe in their potential find it difficult to get the resources they need because too many policymakers, politicians, voters and taxpayers do not share that optimism.

His post, dated today, invites readers to provide evidence to the contrary. I'll stay alert for his follow-up column.

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