Why Education Inequality Persists - And How To Fix It

By John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew professor of education at New York University

If it takes a village to raise a child, the same village must share accountability when many children are educationally abandoned. In New York City, the nation’s largest school system, on average student outcomes and their opportunity to learn are more determined by the neighborhood where a child lives, than his or her abilities.

The following column was originally posted on The Answer Sheet blog. 

Exclusionary Zoning Denies Poor Access to Quality Schools

New Study: It costs almost $11,000 more per year to live near high-quality schools than low-quality schools. This "housing cost gap," which is the result of exclusionary zoning policies, means that low-income students are less likely to attend good schools, thereby denying them access to the educational opportunities they need to succeed and escape poverty. 

It's a big week for studies focused the relationship between location and educational opportunity: First, the Schott Foundation's report on education redlining in New York City public schools that revealed city policies and practices systematically deny educational opportunities to the districts and schools with high percentages of poor and students of color.

Education Policy Must Focus on Ensuring Equity

The more we focus on testing and market-based reforms, the less we'll be able to learn and replicate from countries like Finland. Equity is a central component Finnish education policy. It isn't in the U.S. 

With all the attention Finland has been getting in recent years, you might wonder why we can't just replicate what the Finns are doing and - PRESTO! - fix all the woes of the U.S. education system.

2020 Vision Roadmap: A Pre-K Through Postsecondary Roadmap for Educational Success

Publication Date: 
Wed, 2012-04-11
National Opportunity to Learn Campaign

In 2010, the President set a goal for the U.S. to become the global leader in postsecondary degree attainment by the year 2020. Yet, more than 7,000 students, many of whom are not proficient in reading and math, are leaving or being pushed out of U.S. schools each day. This study shows that the U.S. cannot achieve the President’s 2020 goal if our schools continue to hemorrhage large segments of our nation’s youth. Accordingly, this document is designed to serve as a blueprint for implementing a comprehensive package of policy reforms that seek to increase the quantity of students who succeed at every stage of the educational pipeline and the quality of the education they receive. Different from most calls for reform, it considers the educational pipeline in its entirety—from early childhood through postsecondary attainment—and offers evidence‐informed strategies to boost access, quantity and quality at every stage.

The State of Preschool 2011

Publication Date: 
Tue, 2012-04-10
National Institute for Early Education Research

This report from the National Institute for Early Education Research analyzes national and state statistics and trends on the availabilty of quality Pre-K programs across the country. The report includes detailed state profiles that measure not just access access to early education opportunities but also whether available Pre-K programs meet a set of 10 benchmarks for quality. 

More Kids in Pre-K, But Less Per-Student Funding

According to a new report, Pre-K enrollment has doubled in the U.S. over the past ten years. But because of budget cuts, state per-child spending for Pre-K programs has decreased dramatically. 

The good news: More students than ever are enrolled in Pre-K programs in the U.S. The bad news: The rising number of Pre-K students coupled with state education budget cuts across the country has drastically reduced per-child spending on Pre-K programs.  

Gambling on National Security

The stakes are high in education reform, what with needing to adequately prepare our children to maintain our nation's economic vitality, international competitiveness and democratic vibrancy. But the policymakers that are pushing for more privatization in our public schools are gambling our children's education - and our nation's future - on a lousy hand of reform policies. 

If policymakers want to play a bit of poker, they should save their gambling for the card table and keep it out of education reform. In a Huffington Post column, Schott Foundation President and CEO John Jackson calls the weak hand of the policymakers who are pushing for more privatization in our nation's public schools. 

Teacher Opinion and Research Ignored in Ed Debate

How is it that education policymakers can profess to respect teachers while at the same time ignoring national teacher opinion polls and instead supporting policies like merit pay based on test scores, competitive grants, and the expansion of online learning and charter schools?

How is it that education policymakers can profess to respect teachers while at the same time ignoring national teacher opinion polls and instead supporting policies like merit pay based on test scores, competitive grants, and the expansion of online learning and charter schools?

Parent and Community Organizing Pays Off

If you ever doubt the ability of community organizing to influence debates on public education reform, check out some of these recent success stories. From Pennsylvania to Florida, parent, students and educators across the country are influencing public will and making their voices heard in their local governments. 

Over the past couple of weeks, we've posted about different examples of successful community organizing from across the country and they're worth highlighting again all in one blog post as proof of the power of grassroots organizing. 

Evaluating Teacher Evaluations

Publication Date: 
Wed, 2012-03-21
Linda Darling-Hammond, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, Edward Haertel and Jess Rothstein

 "Evaluating Teacher Evaluations," published in Phi Delta Kappan is a great tool for understanding value-added rating models and how they fail to account for the vast number of factors that influence a student's test scores from one year to the next. Since value-added models can't control for factors like class size, home and community challenges, summer learning loss (which disproportionately affects low-income students), then there is no way they can provide an accurate picture of how effective a teacher is in raising student test scores. 


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