Sunday, January 13, 2013

8 More Links on Education Inequality

1. William H. Schmidt: Inequality in the American Education System

While I do not agree with Mr. Schmidt's conclusion (that the introduction of the Common Core Standards is a move in the right direction), I find it interesting that he points out an area of education inequality not often discussed: tracking systems. I myself am undecided on the topic of tracking; I see both sides of the debate and cannot decide which is more compelling. This article makes a pretty good case against the tracking system. 

2. No Education Reform Without Tackling Poverty, Experts Say

A panel of experts that met in Washington, D.C. in April concluded that the focus of the education inequality battle needs to be poverty, not public school educators. 

Here is a quote from the article:

"The panel used their presentations to demonstrate how more affluent schools have made significant gains in academic improvement over the past 40 years while under-funded schools, despite making some strides, have been unable to close the achievement gap. The panelists urged lawmakers to avoid blaming the public school system and instead put programs in place to address the crippling poverty that obstructs student learning."

3. New York Times: SAT Scores and Family Income

This article is frightening. I've always heard that higher family income correlates with higher SAT scores, but seeing this data visually really brings it home. I've included the graph of all 3 sections on the same axis below.

4. School Funding Inequality Forces Poor Cities Like Reading, PA., To Take Huge Cuts

This article is a sobering reminder of how severely those in poor cities suffer. In 2013, twenty six states in the U.S. will spend less per student than they did last year. Thirty-five states thus far have spent less per student than they did before the recession. If you want to get a feel for how bad things are, take a look at what this article has to say about the Reading, Pennsylvania school district: 

"The Reading School District looks nothing like it did just a year ago. A $43 million deficit this year has resulted in 13 percent fewer teachers on its payroll, and a scramble to fill those gaps. Many furloughed rehires are teaching in unfamiliar fields. For example, Brad Richards, a longtime sixth-grade history veteran, presides over a kindergarten class. The capacity of pre-kindergarten has been cut in half. Because Pennsylvania schools by rule can't fire teachers unless a school is closed or a program is shut down, certain vocational and technology classes simply don't exist anymore. Fewer security guards monitor student brawls and school safety inside the halls, and those who remain operate without the help of police officers, whom the district deemed too expensive to hire from the city.
More students jostle for less space. The intermediate schools and the high school are flooded with extra kids, the refugees of three defunct middle-school "gateways" opened a few years ago."
This article points out that education reformers are arguing over things like school choice and charter schools, which only serve to continue the cycle of poverty (the issue of school choice is complex and multi-faceted, so expect a blog post devoted to that topic soon). 
To understand how living in a poorer city effects the education system, consider these statistics quoted in the article: Reading, PA can spend only $7,572 per student per year. Does that sound like a lot? Well, only a short distance away in West Reading, the school district spends $10,633 per student per year. That is what having a poverty rate of 40.1% does to a city. Only 64% of Reading residents have a high school diploma, and only 10% have a bachelors degree. Many teenagers in Reading have dropped out of school to help their parents in times of economic hardship, and are thus unlikely to attend a university. 
This article includes many more salient points and is definitely worth your time to read. However, you may want to have a box of tissues on hand when you read Ja'Nya's story. 
Horace Mann famously stated: "Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery." If school districts like that of Reading, PA cannot afford to spend as much as they need to spend on their students, how will we ever break the cycle of poverty in this country? Horace Mann was on to something when he called education "the great equalizer", but he statement is only true if we make it true.

5. Evidence Says Education Inequality is Hurting the U.S. Economy
This article makes a few very important points about how income level effects the education one receives, however what I found most informative about this article was the following paragraph: 
"Poverty isn’t the only disadvantage faced by bright kids from poor backgrounds, The New York Times story said. At college, low-income students face competition from peers who grew up with perquisites many poor kids lack, such as preschools, tutors, summer camps, music lessons and stable, prosperous families. Low-income students often miss out on guidance from family members, can be easily swamped by mounting debts, and might feel pressure to contribute income toward their families."
High-income students have access to so many resources that are simply unavailable to their lower-income counterparts. To speak from personal experience, working with a tutor helped me jump 70 points on a section of the SATs. It isn't fair that some of my peers cannot afford to get the same kind of assistance!

6. The Income Inequality Debate: Potential Causes
The content of this link is nicely summarized in its introduction:
"While income inequality can be summarized in a few words, its multiple potential causes are more complex. Globalization and technological change have simultaneously led to greater competition for lower-skilled workers--many of whom have also lost union membership--while giving well-educated, higher-skilled workers increased leverage. Changes to tax rates, including favorable treatment for capital gains, may also play a role."

7. Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity

This article is a gold mine of information on the psychological and emotional implications of adversity experienced in early years. 

Here is a quote from the article that explains the ACE study, which polled over 17,000 middle-class adults:
"Known as the ACE study and done in collaboration with Dr. Robert F. Anda at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the project analyzed longitudinal data on more than 17,400 middle-class adults in the Kaiser Permanente system.
Participants reported whether, as children, they had experienced repeated physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse, and whether they had grown up with any of five types of "household dysfunction": a family member in prison; domestic violence; an alcoholic or drug abuser in the home; someone in the home who was depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal; or loss of at least one biological parent during childhood for any reason.
As it turned out, more than half the adults had had at least one type of severe abuse or home dysfunction in childhood, and one in 16 had experienced four or more. The number of traumatic childhood experiences, Dr. Felitti found, was directly proportional to a person's risk of a wide variety of major medical and social problems, from teenage pregnancy and drug abuse to adult heart disease and hepatitis. 
"These results are almost unique in their magnitude," Dr. Felitti said. A boy with six indicators of abuse and home dysfunction was 4,600 percent more likely than a boy with no risk factors to become an intravenous-drug user, according to the study."

8. Steven Strauss: The Connection Between Education, Income Inequality, and Unemployment

The author of this article quotes statistics that tell us what we already know: the more education one has, the higher the likelihood of finding a high paying job. Although we in the 21st century are challenging this notion, the corrolation between education and income remains strong. Articles like these remind me how important it is for us to address education inequality right now. 

No comments:

Post a Comment