Wednesday, October 12, 2011

the real cause of the urban school problem

Chicago Tribune | America's urban public schools are in trouble: Student test scores are low and dropout rates are high. Recent remedies proposed include everything from reducing the power of teachers unions and opening more charter schools to ending test-based accountability. But what if education critics are focused on the wrong problem?

Implicit in these very different proposals is the assumption that urban schools are failing because they are run badly, and that the solution lies in improving their management. Over the last five years, we have been involved in a wide-ranging research project that provides compelling evidence to the contrary. Our findings show that the root of the problems facing urban schools can be found in gradual but extremely powerful changes in the nation's economy — not the least of which is the increasingly unequal distribution of family incomes. Policies that address the consequences of these changes, which recent poverty figures show have worsened, are more likely to improve the life chances of the children from low-income families.

For the first three-quarters of the 20th century, economic growth, fueled in large part by the increasing educational attainments of successive generations of Americans, was a rising tide that lifted the boats of the rich and poor alike. During the most recent three decades, by contrast, the fruits of economic growth have not been widely shared and the gap between the incomes of the nation's rich and poor families has grown enormously.

Little noticed, but vital for our nation's future prosperity, is the equally dramatic widening of the gap between the educational attainments of children growing up in rich and poor families. Between 1978 and 2008, the gap between the average mathematics and reading test scores of children from high- and low-income families grew by a third. This growing test score gap has been reflected in a growing gap in completed schooling. Over the last 20 years, the rate of affluent children who completed college increased by 21 percentage points, while the graduation rate of children from low-income families increased by only 4 percentage points.

Growing economic inequality contributes in a multitude of ways to a widening gulf between the educational outcomes of rich and poor children. In the early 1970s, the gap between what parents in the top and bottom quintiles spent on enrichment activities such as music lessons, travel and summer camps was approximately $2,700 per year (in 2008 dollars). By 2005-2006, the difference had increased to $7,500. Between birth and age 6, children from high-income families spend an average of 1,300 more hours than children from low-income families in "novel" places — other than at home or school, or in the care of another parent or a day care facility. This matters, because when children are asked to read science and social studies texts in the upper elementary school grades, background knowledge is critical to comprehension and academic success.

Historically, we have relied on our public schools to level the playing field for children born into different circumstances, but in recent years, the gaps in achievement and behavior between high- and low-income children have only grown wider. Why? For one thing, residential segregation by income has meant that poor children are concentrated in the same schools to a much greater extent today than 40 years ago. As a result, children from low-income families are far more likely to have classmates with low achievement and behavior problems, which have a negative effect on their own learning. Children from poor families are also especially likely to attend schools with high rates of student turnover during the school year, and there is clear evidence that students learn less under such circumstances. In Chicago's public schools, 10 percent of students change school every year and it is not uncommon for some classrooms to have five new students arrive during the year. Research shows that students learn less if they attend schools with high student turnover during the school year.


CNu said...

Please translate the above into intelligible English Ronald. Without all the ritualized gibberish and coinages, simply state your point(s) in language that everybody can understand and make sense of. Thanks.

nanakwame said...

Basically it proves like in health, it isn't about race of skin tone, but forces of ecology are strong, and at a young age self-motivation is  harder. When a nation praised the need for basic education no matter the income, public schools worked quite well. When all becomes privatized base on family, on ethnocentric, and on status, a nation suffers for the created problems doesn't go away, it appears on the negative side of a society, draining its resources and social will. What we have today with massmen augmenting irrationality.

umbrarchist said...

This just demonstrates that the poor need to start using computers better than the rich and find inexpensive resources to do it with.

Coby Kyros 7015

HTC Flyer Full Review

Another resource is Project Gutenberg.  Sure it has been around since 1971 but how many works did it contain before 2001?  3,000!  Now there are 36,000.  So what can be done with Project Gutenberg is orders of magnitude greater than it was 10 years ago.

A Short History of the World by H. G. Wells

All Day September  by Roger Kuykendall

Eight Keys to Eden  by Mark Clifton

The Tyranny of Words (1938) by Stuart Chase

The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh From the Lemonade Stand

Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics, by Stan Gibilisco

Constructive_Feedback said...

KCNulan -  I just "liked" your comment above just to stroke your ego.

The article that you posted argues that the reason for the gap in academic performance IS the GROWING INCOME GAP.

This is a non sequitur. 
It argues that when the school teacher closes the classroom door at one of the "urban schools" that Obama warned us about in his "Race Speech" - the forces from the centuries of oppression felt by these kids - even though they were born in 1998 -  prove to be more powerful than anything the teacher, parents and adults in the community are able to do otherwise.

Is it possible, Mr KCNulan that some people have been lulled into the consciousness of a PERMANENT STRUGGLE? 
Take it away and the individuals return back into a state of dystopia.

Keep your shirt on .  This is not just a "Black thing". 
The Space Race was just such a thing for the Nation (White folks).

For Black Progressives and Black Anarco-Capitalists they choose to generate the same effect upon the people by fighting against White Conservatives. 

The point that you need to understand is their fight is over ACCESS when it needs to be about ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE. 

The main reason why our fearless President warned us all about leaving Blacks ALL ALONE in urban schools is because he has first hand knowledge that the present BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS is one of EXTERNAL orbitation rather than conscious connection to our organic self worth can competencies.


CNu said...

Ronald, did you click the link and read the full article I excerpted?

ken said...

Many poor people do not invest the maximum effort and attention toward preparing their children to learn.
I can agree with this, but I think it just comes down to time. Statistically we understand the poor will likely be with only one parent. As a father I see my short comings where my wife picks up the slack and I believe I do the same for her. There's just no way the child can be delivered all the various interests and disciplines and guidance and overseeing two parents can do compared with the single parent. 

If the single parent is trying to support the family have the children involved in various artistic practices or sports oversee the homework and make sure the kid or kids aren't acting up in school and then maintain the house, its not a matter of not providing the effort, there just isn't the time to accomplish it all. 

CNu said...

Waaaaay back in my day, it was still possible for a professional single mother to prepare her child to learn, heroically difficult, but nevertheless possible. In those instances where it was deemed implausible, it was still very common for such a mother to give her child over to her own parents so that she could continue to pursue her life as a singleton while the child obtained the benefit of exceptionally seasoned and indulgent parenting. Fast forward from 1980 to the present.

The death of the grandparental generations, the continued exodus of professional and managerial class people from the hood and out to "greener" pastures, the so-called war on drugs and incarceration and newfangled Jim Crowing of millions of black men, and the continuing concentration of poor single parent households has yielded multiple generations of single-parented kids with progressively attenuated acculturation for learning and excellence, and instead, progressively more American popular acculturation via teevee, music, and videogame, and the web - all of which is decidedly anti-intellectual. Consequently, many poor people abide in communities that do not value or reward
learning, and consequently, the neutral-to-negative attitude toward
learning and early childhood cognitive enrichment is strongly enforced.
That said, only a complete imbecile would expect such a community to
spontaneously right and correct itself.

Of course, the conservative response exemplified by CF/CS boils down to citing a failure of morality and personal responsibility with the prescription to BE MORE EQUAL or BE MORE EXCELLENT - or - even more eccentric - the genetically - rather than culturally heritable biological failure of the intellectual potential of the poor a la BD - eliciting the ultimate conservative prescription of a FINAL SOLUTION.

Constructive_Feedback said...

[quote]In the early 1970s, the gap between what parents in the top and bottom
quintiles spent on enrichment activities such as music lessons, travel
and summer camps was approximately $2,700 per year (in 2008 dollars). By
2005-2006, the difference had increased to $7,500.[/quote]

My BFF Ever KCNulan:

From your emphasis you seem to say that the ONLY way to boost a progeny's vocabulary is by investing MONEY into the cause of his intellectual expansion.

How exactly did learned people of the past who did not have access to such capitalistic fortunes get by as such?  How did they rise to the occasion?

How did Frederick Douglass become such an articulate and insightful man per your theory?

Did he attend "Kaplan", "Hunnington" or "Mathnaseum"?

Do tell Mr Nulan.

JayLib said...

What "problem"? Far as the ruling class is concerned, the public fool system is working perfectly. 

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