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Socioeconomic Integration

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The most effective way to close the achievement gap across racial and income groups, writes Richard D. Kahlenberg in this Education Week Commentary, is socioeconomic integration. Research has repeatedly affirmed that a given student will perform better in a middle-class school than in a high-poverty school, says Kahlenberg. And, while the No Child Left Behind Act allows students in failing high-poverty schools to transfer to more successful public schools in their district, a recent report indicates that less than one percent of students eligible for transfer under Title I actually do so.

Lawmakers could expand the potential for socioeconomic integration of schools by creating interdistrict school choice options and removing disincentives for middle-class schools to accept student transfers from low-performing schools.

What do you think? Would socioeconomic integration of schools help close the achievement gap? Should the No Child Left Behind Act be amended to encourage the transfer of more low-income students to high-quality, middle-class public schools?

42 Comments

what are the percentage of graduate in the united states.

what are the percentage of graduates in the unite states.

“Research has repeatedly affirmed that a given student will perform better in a middle-class school than in a high-poverty school, says Kahlenberg.”-- …I AGREE

“And, while the No Child Left Behind Act allows students in failing high-poverty schools to transfer to more successful public schools in their district, a recent report indicates that less than one percent of students eligible for transfer under Title I actually do so.”

…Yes because they are poor and cannot afford to do so financially....Let alone that school is more than grades....it is a Systemic Social System, with Emotional ties to peers and teachers...Kids are not widgets to be moved about,

“Lawmakers could expand the potential for socioeconomic integration of schools by creating interdistrict school choice options and removing disincentives for middle-class schools to accept student transfers from low-performing schools.”

…No!!! What are you thinking? Why does the USA/NCLB use methods to obfuscate the problem?

“What do you think? Would socioeconomic integration of schools help close the achievement gap?”
… NO ! This misses the problems and only creates new ones!

“Should the No Child Left Behind Act be amended to encourage the transfer of more low-income students to high-quality, middle-class public schools?”
….NO! Again it misses the problems.


My Answer!
Here is an idea....Instead of moving a few kids from high-poverty schools to middle class public schools - How about financing and upgrading these high-poverty school environments as well as every school environment, to the middle class level quality! In fact if America really wanted to be competitive in the world, we would upgrade our educational system to be the best, most advanced and developed system in the world. We have the philosophy and freedom to obtain knowledge to do so, but are lacking in giving out the funding that it actually takes. We need to see it as our first line of defense, our real military weapon against terrorism (ignorance), and the base life line for Democracy.

Providing middle class schools (I would prefer best in the world schools), would be cheaper in the long run! It would provide teachers, parents, and students with the necessary tools to produce healthier, motivated, well- educated students/citizens, leading to a society of invention, hope and success! Something rural and inner city kids realize as they compete to enter college or the job market.


I would much rather see us do what needs to be done to educate families whose children attend lower income schools on how to make their neighborhood schools excellent schools. It can be done. It will just take commitment from all the stakeholders.

It has been shown time after time that the key to academic success is parental involvement, not per student expendatures. The reason private religious schools do much better in the same economically depressed neighborhoods as public schools, is that the parents have to make a sacrifice to place their children in these schools. The key is not the economic sacrifice, but the type of parents that are willing to be involved in their children's education. I am in a high school district which has very high per student expendatures. It produces a large number of National Merit Scholars, but is constantly being criticized for the "achivement gap". That gap is not a result of insufficient funding, but in most cases is a result of insufficient parent involvement. Additional funding will do nothing to correct that.

D. Jones notes:
"It has been shown time after time that the key to academic success is parental involvement, not per student expendatures."

While this has been the popular wisdom, I am not so sure that it has been shown time after time. A study of California schools with high numbers of low income students and better than average achievement levels did not show parental involvement to be a significant factor. While this always seems like a big "duh," the research tends to bear out that teachers have the biggest impact. We know that teachers with experience (the first five years are the steepest learning curve) have an impact, we know that teachers who are well educated in their field (particularly in mathematics and science)have an impact, we know that schools who place the best teachers with the students with highest needs do better.

When we look at funding issues honestly in a building by building examination, we find that there are frequently funding discrepancies that track back to the experience level of the teachers. This is frequently invisible in districts that assign an arbitrary per/FTE cost associated with teachers, rather than actual salary amounts--which are more likely to reflect years of experience and level of education--two of the proxies for quality of teachers.

Clearly the outstanding success an educator such as Marva Collins has had with children identified as "uneducable" and "learning disabled" indicates that parents, school administrators and teachers need to take a closer look at what is going on in the classroom. Isn't it interesting that even in the most affluent school districts, one points to the role of parents as if it's the guarantor of a proficient education, implying parents are the primary reason why students fail or succeed regardless of what goes on during school for 1,200 hours/year over thirteen years. Of course, parents are very instrumental in the well-being of their children and the health of their academic careers. Face it, parents aren't the ones teaching English, Algebra II, or the modified low-level academic tracks so many children are on. Why is it that if a student enters school with an achievement gap, it's so difficult to fill it in thirteen years of education.

Recently, we asked our school district to reach out to parents and community to increase parental engagement in education. Dr. Joyce Epstein at John Hopkins University has an outstanding model of how to do it. Of course outreach to parents extends beyond asking them to raise money for the school/students through the HSA/PTA or to show up at special events or at the bi-annual parent/teacher conference. Tabled. Yes, that's where this suggestion for parent engagement is located today...on the 'we'll consider it later but not tell you no today lest you think this great idea is of no value to us" table; it's been there for one year.

Blaming parents for academic failure works well for teachers and administrators and, unfortunately, for parents who never perceive how they've been duped into believing they and their children must be the core problem for failure in a public education system that is just so "right."

My school district is ranked as one of the best in Pennsylvania (for the gifted and brightest students), but has a horrible record of educating blacks, Hispanics, low-income, and children with disabilities and many struggling readers. By the way, those are the very students Marva Collins has taken from deficient and learning disabled to the highest degree of excellence, brilliance and competence. Teachers can't teach what they don't know and nobody calls a teacher-disabled; instead a child is labeled disabled and support staff, tutoring, summer school, and special education services are called into play to accomplish what that qualified teacher can't do without all the help in the world.

If that fails, blame the parents, their community, and even their child. Of course, the disabled child has to stay unabled because it would prove all too many "experts" wrong if s/he had the brilliance and gifted potential actually drawn out of them and school districts would lose a lot of that "special education" funding. Can you imagine what a learning disabled child's academic experience would be like if school districts, unknowingly to anyone, criss-crossed the "accelerated" curriculum, perceptions and attitudes of the gifted children with them. Talk about high expectations and improved outcomes!

And the research studies go on and on and on. Most parents and community are not aware of the strength and influence of teacher unions. Our districts' teachers just contracted to add fifteen more minutes to their working day. Our school board just approved paying a second grade teacher $1,000 to tutor a student over three months...during the school day. A fifth grade teacher in our affluent district earns $97,250 salary annually. Can you believe it, he has a PhD and an aide in his class. I cannot imagine any profession in America or on the planet where so much failure is tolerated at such high costs to our local school budgets, our students' lives, our nation, and our global community. How long would Nike, Procter and Gamble, ABCD Hospital or Bill Gates employ these folks...

Parents do matter--for sure, however teachers, administrators, and politicians need to be held accountable to ensure an adequate education for every American child--BAR NONE.

I am an African American happily married parent with a husband who has a six-figure income. I am a "homemaker" who is very involved in my children's education. I am extremely concerned about public education, particularly for African American males. I can prove to anyone on the planet that there is so much more going on in our schools that flies below the radar of zillions of people everyday when there is no parent in sight to blame for academic failure. I've encounted a public school nightmare, and I don't fall into the "dysfunctional demographics" excuse pile. In fact, parents who often believe they're "isolated" cases are coming out of the woodwork to state their case and experiences. The education curve of parents across this nation will grow tremendously over the next five years as they wake-up and become proactive in creating systemic change in public education. No parent wants failure for their child.

Perhaps its time to get back to the commonsense basics of education. Perhaps taking a look at how Marva Collins has tremendous success with educating students and why there was no academic gap in her classroom and then using her methodology as a national model for education reform. By the way, Mrs. Collins did not allow one excuse for failure to exist in her classroom, and there were plenty of opportunities--denied.

If you are a parent, teacher of citizen looking for a road map to academic excellence and democracy, then read E.D. Hirsch, Jr.'s book, The Knowledge Deficit Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children, Houghton Mifflin, April 2006. This an excellent read for anyone interested in a fresh and different perspective on what is necessary to really educate every child as written by an educator extraordinaire.

I feel that while NCLBgives parents the option of transferring their children, many do not for several reasons. 1) In our city, the schools accepting transfers is limited. 2) the socio-economic differences between the transfer student and the rest of the student body may make the transfer student very uncomfortable. They do not "fit"in.
My thoughts are to improve the schools with lower scores. The emphasis on standardized test scores will always leave someone behind.
I teach dropouts and I know that they feel like they have been abandoned by the community abd their peers.

It's true that parents do not teach Algebra II or Physics. The importance of the family in a child's education is the child's attitude about that education. As a parent and long-time school system employee, with 10 years in a low-income school, it has become extremely evident that the importance of education to the parent is parallel to the student's level of achievement. If a parent sees the school as primarily having the responsibility for raising their child, feeding them and babysitting, the child has no regard for education. Children don't learn their attitudes in a vacuum. It comes from home. Parents who value education (who tend to be educated themselves and therefore earn a higher income)pass along to their children, regardless of race, a respect and desire for education.

What is interesting to me here is that everyone is complaining that it is someone else's problem. Who is to blame for the achievement gap is a red-herring in our discussion. Everyone is to blame. Of course it would be easier for teachers if parents were supportive of and encouraged education. Of course teachers could produce better results if children were taught discipline at home. Unfortunately, as a teacher, you cannot control that variable, so stop complaining and get your part of the job done. Of course as a parent, life is easier when you have access to world class schools, and we should fight tooth-and-nail to get them, but at the end of the day, when the funding still does not materialize, as a parent you have an obligation to instill a desire to learn in your children, to support the school system that does exist and to ensure that your child presents to school ready, respectful and willing. Teacher preparation programs blame teachers, not themselves, for poor outcomes. Sure, it would be optimal to have an endless pot of naturally gifted educators to work with. As a dean of an ed. school, you have only a certain amount of influence over who decides to pursue a career in teaching. Having to work with future teachers you do not consider intellectually capable of teaching to the levels required for world-class classrooms does not absolve your responsibility to deliver inspirational guidance for our future teachers. Lobby for changing the social perception of the teaching profession so more gifted high school graduates and career-changing professionals go into teaching, by all means, but at the end of the day, do not wash your hands of the problem because the raw material you have to work with is not up to your standard. The onus on you is all the greater to run excellent programs. Unless you think you can change it, accept it and focus on what you can impact. All of these factors are interdependent; the weight of their importance is at this point secondary to the need for everyone in the chain to focus on getting their job done.

Would socioeconomic integration of schools help close the achievement gap? Not longterm. Economic prejudice must be overcome first.

Should the No Child Left Behind Act be amended to encourage the transfer of more low-income students to high-quality, middle-class public schools? No, there we must always ask about the children left behind and the affect thereof. It should be ammended to simply allow ALL students to transfer to public schools of their choice. It should not be a big issue, and this will NOT solve the problems we are facing in our schools.

I work in a public middle school, inner city Dallas, Hispanic neighborhood. All middle school kids are in a very dangrous place in their lives. They normally have little realistic vision of, or connection to, their futures. Consequently they make the dangerous decisions they make, and waste thousands of hours they will never have again. To combat these losses we have worked to connect them realistically with their potential futures. We do it with a "Achievements & Goals Archive" we started in our school, described at www.studentmotivation.org. This project is called The Middle School Archive Project. We had all materiels needed for our archive donated over a year ago by Lowe's Home Improvement: a 350 pound safe along with all materiels needed to sink it into the wall of our schools lobby into a fire-resistant closet behind a locked Plexiglas door. It is all placed under spotlights. All students pass it 4 or more times every school day. They all know they are to write a letter to themselves about the stories from their life they want to write and their goals for the future. They seal these letters and address them to themselves at a more permanent address in their family such as a grandparent if they themselves live in apartments. They then pose for photos with their Language Arts Class, the class in which they wrote these letters. After the photo they each place their letter into the Archive.

Every student in the photo then gets a 4" x 6" copy of the photo with the following written on a large lable pasted to the back of the photo:
====================================
This is your Language Arts Class on May 12, 2006 posing in front of the Achievements & Goals Archive at Quintanilla Middle School, 2700 Remond Dr., Dallas, Texas 75211, phone 972-502-3200. A letter you wrote to yourself is now inside the Archive. Sometime the fall of 2015 you will be invited to the reopening of the Archive before Thanksgiving. Please call Quintanilla if you have not heard from us by November of 2015, or if you want to help with the reunion, or if you no longer can receive mail at the address placed on your envelope in the Archive. We want you to be able to join us for the opening of the Archive, and your class reunion, Thanksgiving of 2015. If you cannot attend the Thanksgiving Reunion we still need a correct address so you will get your letter when it is mailed the first week of May, 2016. May you prosper these next 10 years, Your Quintanilla Family
=============================
These photos quickly became valued possessions for each student and they had their classmates sign them.

Hopefully the connection to the future for students will be empahsized even more as former students begin to return every Thanksgiving to pick up their letters in 8 years. (Our project is 2 years old.) They will tell the then current 8th graders of their lives since middle school and what they would do if they were 13 years old again.

This planning for their future may help lessen the current 50+% dropout rate our students suffer from. This is a plan that appears to be working.

The "achievement gap" exists simply because someone has measured it. Children are children, students are students. The only real gap that exists is between what any one student can do abnd what that student is doing. If any student is performing below their potential, there is reason for concern. If schools cannot afford to give students a proper education, they should be given the means to provide that education.
No child should go to school hungry, but many do, and many of them succed anyway. No child should attend school in a condemned builing or even a sub-par building, but many do and many succeed.
No child should be subject to violence in school, but many children are and many still succeed.
No child should be left behind, but many are, and many are left behind by the law titled "No Child
Left Behind".

Read "The knowledge gap: Implications of leveling the playing field for low-income and middle-income children" by Neuman and Celano in Reading Research Quarterly Vol. 41, No. 2 (April/May/June, 2006). A $20 million gift was used to transform 32 neighborhood libraries in Philadelphia. The study shows what many educators already knew - the degree of involvement of an older person (parent, babysitter, etc.) is more important than the availability of materials. A previous study even showed that the one major difference in children who were retained in elementary schools and those who weren't was the degree of parent involvement, not the level of parent education, SES status, etc. If we are to improve the access to education for all children, we must involve the entire family/community in that effort. Simply transferring children to higher performing schools doesn't work, as many school districts across the country have learned.

The Myth of Dismantling Racial Segregation within the U.S. Public School System: Chasing Pipe Dreams

By: Howard J. Eagle

May 17, 2004

A slightly different version of this article was first written (under the same title) more than four years ago. The original version was submitted February 25, 2002 (along with a request for publication) to the nationally acclaimed Education Week Magazine. After reviewing it, one might guess that the submission was apparently too abrupt or raw for Education Week's literary taste. In any case, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the historic, U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas Case (May 17, 2004) --- I was compelled to circulate a revised version of the original article (for personal consumption and/or publication by potentially interested parties --- free of charge). Interestingly enough, as of the 52nd anniversary of the Brown Case (May 17, 2006), all of the positions articulated below in 2004, still hold firmly true today.

My original article was inspired in part by the work of several other authors, which I had read in Education Week during January and February of 2002, including a very lengthy, but limited analysis by a professor named Richard M. Merelman. The central theme of the above referenced authors is a mythical abstraction that they referred to as "resegregation" in public education. In my response, I had argued and maintain that --- although it had emerged (during the early months of 2002) as a topic of "scholarly" debate within some education circles --- there was and is no such thing as "resegregation" within the U.S. public school system. The plain, simple truth is that, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case; thousands of citizens’ protests, marches, and demonstrations in the streets; massive busing efforts; federal enforcement efforts, including the use of soldiers in numerous cases; sit-ins, teach-ins, and love-ins on the part of liberals, militants, and "revolutionaries" of every stripe, especially during the 1960's and 70's --- the U.S. never even came remotely close to achieving full (defacto, as opposed to dejure) desegregation within the vast majority of its public schools. In addition to numerous court cases, such as the Brown case and many others, (some of which date back to the 1930's and 40's) the types of street action described above were clearly, largely responsible for helping to produce a relatively small degree of progress (considering the price that was paid) toward equal, public, educational opportunity for all U.S. citizens. However, in the main, such efforts failed to the extent that the exact same, ongoing, fundamental issue of inequitable resource distribution between predominantly white, middle and upper class, suburban, public school students vis-a-vis predominantly black and brown, poor and working class, urban, public school students, is as real and serious in 2004 --- as it was in 1954. This failure can be contributed to numerous factors. One of the most critical and outstanding factors is that accommodations were made for expansion of the black middle class in particular. Many of those who benefited most from accommodations and expansion --- had been former leaders, activists, and participants in the types of street actions referenced above. Amazingly, many of the same people became willing "victims" of calculated, cooptation. Thus, due largely to a great vacuum in leadership, caused by desertion on the part of people who had once lent their skills to organizing and fighting so fervently for justice and equality, (apparently only for themselves), sociopolitical movements that had been effective --- died.

Another part of the hard, cold, simple truth is that throughout the history of this nation --- the overwhelming majority of wealthy and middle class, white parents in particular --- have always made it clear that they are not willing to allow their children to attend schools with large numbers of poor, black and brown children. In fact, wealthy and middle class people of color have also generally chosen to educate their children separately from the poor, black masses.

It is probably important to pause at this point and remind readers of the fact that, with regard to public education, and specifically as it relates to academic achievement, ongoing discussions regarding the potential worth or value of desegregation and integration, are usually fueled by the underlying reality that (decades after the 1954 Brown Decision, and other types of actions mentioned above) generally, so-called "minority" students attending public schools, lag behind their white counter parts by leaps and bounds. Numerous scholars and others continue to insist that desegregation and integration represent important aspects of the solution that will eliminate this so-called achievement "gap."

The idea of desegregation and racial integration representing a remedy relative to effectively addressing the widening achievement "gap" between white students and students of color (anytime soon), is totally unrealistic. This vitally important issue is much too urgent for us to give serious consideration to theories that are seemingly based primarily on peoples' romantic wishes, dreams, hopes and prayers --- as opposed to some type of scientific approach and/or evidence. It is time to stop pretending and romanticizing about this life and death issue, and come to grips with the total reality that surrounds continued, pervasive, racial segregation within the U.S. public school system(s).

Clearly, an important part of the reality is that, while integration may be desirable for some --- there are far more people, especially middle and upper class whites --- who do not, never have, and probably never will support racial integration of public schools. Although this reality applies to considerably more white people, particularly parents, than any other racial group --- it is not (exclusively) a white phenomenon. For example, in addition to hundreds of thousands of white educators, there are many blacks and other parents of color who make their livings by working in predominantly black and brown urban schools, but would never consider sending their own children to the same school systems in which they work (even if there were no residency laws preventing them from doing so). More often than not, urban educators (both white and those of color) live in suburban areas. Although it hinges on sick thinking --- I am thoroughly convinced that it is not far-fetched to believe that many people of color who reside in suburban areas, would oppose full, racial integration of public schools.

The degree and depth of resistance represents the main reason why racial integration is not a timely, practical, nor realistic solution for addressing the hard core, entrenched, massive, educational failure experienced in economically poor, predominantly black and Hispanic, urban school districts throughout the United States. It is precisely due to the fact that large numbers of people, especially people of color, have come to realize and understand the depth and pervasiveness of resistance, that many are no longer willing to spend another 50 or 100 years fighting and struggling to achieve the unlikely and unrealistic goal of public school integration.


For decades, many African Americans have viewed the idea of integration as being a matter of chasing pipe dreams, or a waste of precious time and energy that would be better spent on attempts to improve their public schools now (regardless of the socioeconomic and racial compositions of the student bodies). The latter point represents a major reason why (as pointed out by professor Richard M. Merelman), organizations such as ... "the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which designed and executed the arduous legal strategy that [theoretically] won school desegregation in the courts, now has difficulty maintaining a public posture favorable to it against an indifferent and sometimes hostile membership" (Education Week, Feb. 6, 2002, p. 52). It is not likely that the majority of rank and file NAACP members are "indifferent" to the serious, deep-seated, widespread failure, and/or other problems that exist in poverty stricken, urban schools. On the contrary --- they are probably quite concerned. Yet, there is no denying that many of them are absolutely "indifferent and sometimes hostile" relative to the idea of continuing to pursue public school integration as a possible, immediate, or near-future solution. They have undoubtedly joined the ranks of millions who are very, very tired of chasing pipe dreams.

Indeed, there is a need to carefully consider what will happen to the generations of predominantly black and brown children who are currently left with no choices, except attending segregated, underfunded, relatively poor, urban public schools. One thing is certain: If their academic well being and progress is dependent upon the unlikely advent of racial integration --- such students will not become beneficiaries of significantly improved educational opportunities. Once again, it is impossible to overemphasize the fact that this unlikelihood is based on thoroughly pervasive, organized resistance --- fueled by irrational racist and classist values and belief systems, especially, but not exclusively, on the part of middle and upper class, wealthy, white parents.

For those who are convinced that integration is, in part, or totally, the solution that will 'fix' the urban education crisis --- current and long-range strategy is the key, pivotal issue. This is the most notable area in which staunch supporters and advocates of public school integration fall short. With regard to addressing the crisis, some scholars and others insist that the solution, or at least a significant part of it, lies within the need to "break up concentrated poverty," which is another way of saying, there is a need to integrate public schools. Yet, these same advocates and supporters of integration are lacking, and in fact, totally deficient relative to development and/or implementation of practical, effective strategies and tactics that can be utilized to bring their proposed solution into fruition --- without having to wait another two or three hundred years, which is the worst possible thing that people who are most in need of change can afford to do.

In addition to those referenced above, there are many other people who continue to advocate and fight for urban, educational improvement, but for the most part (understandably so) --- in the face of widespread, predominantly white, well organized, and well financed resistance --- have given up on racial integration as a potential solution. This does not necessarily mean that such people are pro-segregation or pro-"resegregation" (if there is such a thing relative to public education in the U.S., which I maintain --- there is not). In order for something to be reinstated or reinstituted --- it necessarily has to exist first. Since desegregation, and certainly integration, has never occurred on any substantial level within the U.S. public school system, it is not really possible, nor is it historically accurate or intellectually honest to engage in serious dialogue or discussion about so-called "resegregation." Many people who clearly understand the desperate need for fundamental change and academic improvement within urban schools throughout the nation, but do not accept racial integration as a realistic or viable solution, often support the following, or similar position(s): As it relates to urban, public schools in the main, (vis-a-vis overwhelmingly, predominantly white, suburban schools, in which children are generally doing well academically and otherwise) the reality that massive numbers of socioeconomically poor, African American and Hispanic children in particular, are flunking out, dropping out, dying out, and/or being imprisoned at younger ages than ever before --- dictates the necessity of providing major amounts of additional, financial resources, human energy and commitment in order to produce significant, fundamental change and improvement within urban, public schools now! Those who support this or similar positions, often argue that we can worry about integration later --- if at all. They also often insist (correctly so) that it is mainly white Americans (as opposed to people of color) who need to be convinced of the morality, importance, and value of integration. Urban students, as well as all students --- don't necessarily need integration or segregation: What they need is adequate and appropriate education!

With regard to professor Merelman's above referenced Education Week Commentary, the essential argument that the scholar attempts (unconvincingly) to advance is that equitable, educational opportunities and significant academic improvement for economically poor, urban, public school children is totally dependent upon the wealth and deeds of white, suburban parents. He argues that... "white parents have more money than black parents to pay for schools, public or private. Parents are mainly interested in good schools for their own children, not for the children of others. It follows that whites will only support black students who happen to be in school with white children. Thus, only if they are sitting next to white children will black children benefit educationally" (p.37). This is an incredibly shallow assertion, which seems to hinge upon acceptance of institutionalized racism. The argument completely ignores the fact that U.S. States are bound by their Constitutions to provide equitable educational opportunities for all children --- regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or any other variable. Perhaps the intended point that the author was attempting to make is that --- since predominantly white, suburban parents and communities (vis-a-vis predominantly African American and Hispanic, urban parents and communities) are generally far more wealthy and economically stable, as well as, a lot more organized politically --- the former group exercises considerably more clout and control over local, state, and federal legislative bodies, which are responsible for allocating resources to public schools. Herein lies one of the most critical factors embodied within institutionalized discrimination and injustice, which helps perpetuate the shameful, national, urban education crisis. That is to say, as it relates to resource allocation, nearly every state legislature in the Union has devised indecipherable financial aid "formulas," (usually based largely on property tax) which clearly favor predominantly white, politically well organized, parents and children from wealthy suburban school districts --- while blatantly discriminating against predominantly African Americans and Hispanics, as well as other parents and children from less organized, economically poor, urban school districts. Such legally sophisticated, institutionalized racism and classism has always been an inherent part of the U.S. economic and political systems. With regard to providing equitable (not equal, but equitable) funding and equal, public, educational opportunities --- the overall situation is literally a classic example of "robinhood-in-reverse," i.e., literally taking from the poor, and giving to the rich.

Until and unless decisive, and probably mass action is taken --- professor Merelman is absolutely correct regarding his contention that... "poor black parents, underfunded [so-called] minority school districts, and low-tax-base, largely black cities [will] continue their losing struggle to come up with educational money they don't have." As noted at the outset of this treatise, U.S. history bears witness to the fact that the only type of action that is likely to be effective relative to helping to secure additional, much needed, and much deserved resources for economically poor, urban school districts is community organizing and civil disobedience, including, if necessary --- protesting in the halls of local, state, and federal governments --- as well as, in the streets. There is absolutely no question about the fact that the cause (demand for equitable public education funding, and equality regarding educational opportunities for all children now) is a just one! The cause is in fact the same one in 2004 that produced the well intentioned, but largely ineffective Brown Decision of 1954. As it relates to prospects for change and improvement, a critical missing element, which existed 50 years ago, is the lack of bold, committed, courageous, political leadership, particularly within the nation's most depressed and oppressed communities. It is totally amazing that those who are considered and/or have been appointed as part of the official and unofficial, elected and non-elected leadership and representatives of urban constituencies --- have been able for as long as they have, (without a firestorm of public criticism and disownership by those whom they claim to represent) to get away with not initiating decisive and indeed radical actions --- designed to effectively produce significant, widespread improvement relative to the scandalous, national, urban education crisis.


Lastly, the remote possibility of racial integration representing part of the solution relative to the crisis in urban, public education, is an issue and question that is largely dependent upon the commitment of its advocates, especially white persons. For those who are serious about their belief in the morality and value of racial integration, and truly committed to bringing it into existence, huge numbers of white people in particular, must necessarily be willing to confront the deep-seated, irrational, racism harbored in the hearts and minds of their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors and colleagues. It is important to consider that, historically speaking, (in the main) people of color have not been guilty of establishment and maintenance of pervasive, organized, resistance to racial integration within the U.S. On the contrary, there is probably no example in the history of the world in which people have surpassed the efforts of African Americans and other people of color to integrate into a society that has repeatedly rejected them as equals. It would not be morally or ethically right, nor would it be logical to now blame African Americans and/or other people of color for being sick and tired of chasing that which certainly appears to be a pipe dream.


That was some treatise. I am referring to the rather lengthy commentary preceeding this one. It was very clear and to the point however and I read the entire thing.
How do we eradicate racism? We probably cannot. There seems to always be one group that considers itself superior to all other groups and creates policy based on that superiority. Much of this racism is quite subtle, like the president of the United States making a statement that a guest worker program is necessary to fill jobs that Americans won't do. While not blatantly racist, this kind of statement implies that Hispanic people are more willing to do menial labor than the average American. The truth is that the average unemployed American is willing to do just about any job that will bring in a paycheck and pay the bills. People from below our southern borders are willing to work for less than the average American because they do benefit economically. Sadly, as in the case of "Pineros", who work in our forests, these guest workers are overworked and underpaid by U.S. standards. Children who would otherwise be protected by child labor laws are allowed to work 12 or more hours a day, without work permits because they are neither citizens of the U.S. or of the states in which they work.
Even without the ineffective Brown vs. Board of Education decision, there are Constitutional guarantees of equality for all in the U.S.
The achievement gap, is yet another racist designation. The idea of a gacp implies that there is some sort of superiority of white students against which the accomplishments of other students may be measured.
Integration is not the answer. Elimination of the entire concept of race is necessary. There is no group that has any clear, scientifically proveable superiority on which to base any theory or policy of an achievement gap.

First of all, I'd like to thank edweek for this forum and topic. In my opinion, it is essential that all U.S. citizens involve themselves in a serious dialogue on this very difficult subject, but one that could be the most important for the long-term health and duration of our nation.

This whole issue of "socioeconomic integration" reminds me of the old "Fram" oil filter TV ad that tried to impress viewers with how important it was that they immediately pay attention to the oil filter in their car--"You can pay me now, or you can pay me later, but sooner or later, you're going to have to do something about your oil filter."

The same is true about the education of ALL our youth. If they're underserved by our public schools during their youth, they don't simply disappear into thin air; too many of them end up costing society a much higher price (dollars and cents-wise as well as larger societal losses), than it would have if we had "fixed" the problem when they were still in school.

For the past 7 years, I have been deeply involved in chronicling the so-called "reform" movement going on in San Diego City Schools (SDCS). Contrary to what most of the country has been led to believe, Mr. Alan Bersin (a lawyer and non-educator) and his business community "friends" did not leave SDCS better off (in real terms) than it was before he arrived. Since 1998, students of color and from economically disadvantaged families have been victims of what I believe to be deliberate (at worst) or ignorant (at best) policies that have resulted in what many parents and grandparents call "educational malpractice."

A number of parents and retired educators sat down with information from the California Department of Education website and analyzed the SDCS performance between 1998 and 2005. The facts are that during this time frame, SDCS "redirected" $350 million from Title I students and dumped those funds into the "general fund" coffers of SDCS in what was advertised as a "reform" movement. And, although the district demonstrated some slight gains in achievement (in some elementary schools) during this time frame, those gains tended to be matched or exceeded by comparable districts in California.

Specifically, efforts aimed at reducing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students placed SDCS in the middle of comparable districts. And finally, regarding the question of whether student achievement gains carried over to the senior high level, the dropout rates and graduation rates in SDCS were not favorable when compared to similar districts across the state.

SDCS has not done well (1998-2005) relative to comparable districts in reducing the achievement gap between students historically performing at a lower level on the SAT and those historically performing at a higher level.

The extraordinarily high costs associated with the “Blueprint for Student Success” ($350 million) in SDCS does not appear to have stimulated student achievement beyond that of comparable urban districts in California. Furthermore, the results of achievement “gap-closing” efforts in SDCS between economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students are similar to the results in other comparable districts.

In the final analysis, improved student achievement does not seem to have carried over to the other indicators of student success at the senior high level between 1998 and 2005.

Society counts on California’s public schools to deliver graduated seniors who have passed their high school exit exam, received their diploma, and are prepared to pursue their hopes and dreams within the realistic expectation that ALL students have been properly prepared for that journey. The facts are that between 1998 and 2005, those expectations by SDCS students (especially those from economically disadvantaged homes) and their families went largely unfulfilled, despite the district "re-directing" $350 million for so-called educational "reform".

The moral of this educational nightmare is that parents, teachers, administrators, and school boards should ALL beware of those who claim (without tried and scientifically proven models) to have "found" the secret to closing the "achievement gap" --especially if those same claims originate with the business community. SDCS is living proof of that truth.

On the other hand, it appears that those who founded the KIPP charter school concept are onto something, i.e., a faculty on call 24/7; a contract signed by the student, parent(s) and the school (no exceptions); very high expectations by all; longer school days (to 5 or 6 pm); and classes that last at least 10 months per school year. From what I read and have learned from interviews, the KIPP school concepts are especially effective for children from economically disadvantaged homes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Middle class school is code for a majority white school. Please do not sugar code it. What we need to realize is that white parents will not send their kids to an all black or latino school even if the test scores are the highest in the state. However, its Ok to send a few black kids to a school with mostly white kids. Schools are segregated because white parents will do anything possible to keep their kids away from schools that have few white kids. There is a general perception that majority black or latino schools are not safe or are not as good regardless of the perfomance of the students.

This is true in where whites choose to buy a home, the sports leagues that they put their kids into or any other acitiviies that involve their families.

I do not belive that most white people are racist. I just believe that, like any other people, they want be with people that they have more in common with culturally.


Socioeconomic is NOT the parameter that must be overcome to close the AYP gap. We have a school that received 4 “D’s” and an “F” in the last 5 years. Under NCLB 62 parents chose to move their children. When Florida’s FCAT was given 90% of the failing kids passed???
Same district, two new schools were constructed where there were not enough students. The schools boundaries were set and encompassed the entire depressed area the of the above school. At the poor school only 45% tested above grade level at the new schools one tested 86% and the other 82%. These kids all came from the same neighborhood and play together after school.
The poor school got that way because of neglect, migration of poor teachers and a superintendent that refused to look at reality.
Bob

It is not the governments responsability to egualize
the economic gap in the schools. If you want your kid to go to a better school, move to that area and pay the taxes. I live in a middle class area and still we have trailer parks too. The parents need to take resposability and help their children, not the government.


This is the way to go and we all know it. Every solution is full of problems, of course, but until further notice, Kahlenberg has the analysis and the best solution available. The core Q: are we (middle class law makers, researchers, professionals, etc.) going to be honest about this or will be continue to drag our feet (and pretend that separate can be equal) while we send our own kids to middle class schools. Historians will judge us harshly if we do not come 'all together now!'


I have felt for years that integration is the best way to improve academic achievement for low socioecomomic students. I work in an urban community school that is 99.7% African-American. We see the need for more of a mixture of cultures, economic classes, races, and academic abilities. Our school is plagued with problems that originate in the community adn filter into the school. Too much time is spent dealing with those problems when that time should be spent on the academics. We have difficulty using cooperative learning strategies when we find that we only have a limited number of able students to work in teams.

Our students need to experience a positive work ethic, good verbal skills, increased vocabulary, and exposure to other races.

Pat/Mom says: "It is not the governments responsability to egualize
the economic gap in the schools. If you want your kid to go to a better school, move to that area and pay the taxes."

I cannot address the particulars in your state (the US Constitution gives to the states the responsibility for providing education), but I would urge you to check your state Constitution on that one. My own state has a very strong "local control" ethic--reflected in a heavy reliance on local property taxes for funding. However the state Constitution says that it IS the responsibility of the state to provide for a thorough and efficient system of education. The Federal Supreme Court has long ago ruled on the unconstitionality of providing education inequitably with regard to race. Many states, my own included have recently had cases affirming the responsibility of the state to provide a level playing field in education--particularly with regard to funding. Access to education--in America--is in fact regarded as a fundamental right to be guaranteed by the government, not by the pocketbook of the parent, or their geography.

No Child Left Behind uses federal funding to assist in leveraging this equality. And whatever the flaws, NCLB has succeeded in providing a body of comparative data by which to assess equality of opportunity.

During my research into finance equity amongst school districts, I found that students of poverty do not perform better at any statistically significant level regardless of where they attend school. I found that the condition of poverty is in and of itself a disability due to common conditions and structures present in the home and neighborhoods of these children. This research falls under the umbrella of Compensatory Education, a program that identifies poverty as a disability and provides funding and resources for that disability. The basis for this research is primarily out of California where a lot of work and programming has occurred. So, I disagree with the summary of Mr. Kahlenberg's research, although I need to read the primary research to fully understand the methods and research questions. In general, as an experienced educator of 20 years, I can report that simply placing a child in an environment that is composed differently racially, will not change the effectiveness of the system to mitigate the effects of poverty. Students of poverty, rather than students of a particular skin color, do not fare well in the traditional systems, in which students of higher socioeconomic standing do fare well. So rather than looking at the source of the achievement gaps as being racial, I think we need to evolve and realize that the source of the gaps is more socioeconomic. The quality of the school buildings, staff, administrators and availability of resources is much lower in poorer districts throughout the United States. Equity of opportunity is the guideline that governs civil rights and education in this nation and as a result those schools that reside in districts of low wealth should not be staffed by less qualified persons, the school facilites should not be substandard and resources should be at least uniform and adequate. Research in this area is best seen from Jonathon Kozol. I am wary of wholesale labeling and fix-it policies that are racially framed. If we deliver the same system, over and over again, and do not achieve the results desired then something needs to change, or we are insane. Students of poverty have performed very well in schools that are organized around liberal art and performing arts frameworks. Since that concept is not tested on NCLB or state mandated states, I suppose it will receive no play. What is good for the student in the seat will dictate what is effective despite the efforts of legislators and politicians and their attempts to cause the tail to wag the dog.

Dr. Roy A. Schiesser
Chandler Gilbert Community College
Phoenix, Arizona

Am a definite supporter of socioeconomic integ. of schools. As a child in NYCity (living in a poor section and parents w/o high school edu.), I and several neighborhood students took public busses to other more middle class schools. I credit the edu. I rec'd. w/ my improved edu. and life expectations.

I grew up in a trailer in the still-trying-not-to-desegregate South with an unusually honest Yankee mother. She explained that we had to buy all our school supplies in the school store--where they cost more and where we could barely afford them--because the Negroes could not afford to buy them there and that was how "they" kept the Negroes out of our school. I suppose the school was socioeconomically integrated, since all the white kids from the trailer park went, and I know at least one of the kids who lived in a house was a Naval officer's son. But in looking at the success of the five children in our family--three professionals, one school teacher, and one honest, solid working-class guy--I've got to credit the parents who helped us with reading and math flashcards and all the things parents used to do. The problem with socioeconomic integration is that today, people don't live across the lines very well. It was hard enough 30 years ago to wear thrift store clothes, be unable to afford the social activities my classmates participated in, *and* be the valedictorian. I'm not sure a kid today could make it.

There is a gap in education. It is a gap between the education served to certain students. All students desrve a basic education from their public school. Sorry, Pat/Mom, but Margo/Mom is right. In a public school, it is the government's responsibility to equalize education for all.
No matter where one lives, taxes are a fact of life and nearly all taxpayers are reluctant to pay them. Admonishments to move to a better school district and to pay the higher taxes are simply stated, small-minded and unrealistic. If no child is indeed to be left behind, the Department of Education needs to set standards for all public schools and require that all states meet those standards. vThe standards I am referring to are minimum standards of curricullum and facilities, textbooks and support services. Wealthier school districts may add things like football stadiums, swimming pools, extra-curricular stuff. There are numerous private schools and academies to serve the very wealthy and even the moderately wealthy. Their academic records are no better than most public schools, but private, expensive education is certainly the right of antone who can afford it. It should not, however be financed or subsidized by the Federal or any state government.

Let us all be honest here. Closing the achievement starts with attitudes. I have been teaching a long time. I taught in private schools, middle socioeconomic schools, and proverty schools. In private schools parents pay for their child's education. Children come to Kindergarten already reading or nearly nearly reading. You meet the parents before the school year begins. Parents offer to help in any way possible. They are continually asking how they can help their child succeed. Teachers and parents are on the phone discussing how to improve on a regular basis. Everyone shows up for conferences. Everyone celebrates education!
You get the most for the money!

In the middle economic public school, parents have a presence. They are involved, but not to the extent of private school. They show up for PTA meetings and parent/teacher conferences. Some keep in close contact with the teachers. Teachers have more paperwork, so they cannot reach out as much as in private schools. Middle income parents want their children to do better than they are doing, so they help their children with their homework. They keep them active and are always communicating to their children that education is important. The gap begins to get wider here because there is less interaction between parents and teachers. Politics begins to come between parents and teachers. Still the children do fairly well because parents have instilled in their children good behavior and the value of education.

In the lowest socioeconomic schools, there are numerous differences. Children have parents who can barely read and do math. If the parents work, they must work hard. They do not take time to teach their children before they come to school. These children have not interacted with adults verbally or socially. Therefore, these children start school with a disadvantage. Their verbal skills and social skills are well behind their more affluent peers. Teachers must teacher these children everything from waiting for their turn to how to eat with spoons and forks. Teachers must teach children their is a vocabulary beyond a curse word. (It is amazing what our politicans don't know about the poor culture!) While the other children know their is such a thing as letters and sounds, these children have never heard of them. What a difference here! In addition, most Kindergarten children are dropped off and the parents are gone. Parents don't stick around to greet the teacher on the first day of school, let alone ask what he or she could do to help the child.
PTA meetings usually consist of five or less parents. They usually sit there and give very little to discussions. Teachers are excited to get fifty percent attendance at conferences. When teachers call parents, it is usually for disciplinary reasons. The teachers do not have time to call for other reasons because the schedule is tight. Paperwork is totally out of control for these teachers. Not only does these teachers have to grade papers, they have to write long extended plans that take 1 to 2 hours, make duplicate reports on every student, go to meeting after meeting, do extra planning, teach after school, and plan and carry out programs designed by parents in the other schools. In return, teachers in lower socioeconomic schools get feedback from parents, but it is usually in the form of a complaint. The complaints are geared toward discipline, why their child received low grades,why their child is in danger of repeating a grade, or to complain about the requirement to do homework. They never ask what can they do to help. When you give them suggestions many the response is "I struggled in school, so will my child."

Most teachers in poor schools just work as hard as possible and never complain. These schools are the schools that get the other kind of teachers, too. These teachers complain and make comments like, "I have flawed material, so I put out flawed material". Good teachers rarely want to go to troubled schools because all of a sudden they are bad teachers. They cannot do anything right. The administration is on their backs all the time. When disciplinary concerns need support, the teachers have to do it on their own. Administrators are very relucent to get involved. Teachers get discouraged very fast in poor schools.

Now we teachers cannot make excuses for the achievement of our students. We must work to the best of our abilities to make sure all children achieve. What we cannot control is attitudes from home. The best teachers just teach and make sure every student learns. They find ways to overcome the difficulties that lay before them. That is the key to making progress.
I have seen many children who at risk achieve.

Let's work to change attitudes. Let's help parents become more involved. Let's support the teachers in the low socioeconmic schools. It does not always take more money, but it does take more positive feedback and more innovative ways to handle the roadblocks.

I have been working on the school choice issue for many years -- trying to undo an entirely inequitable school choice approach in Eugene 4J school district, Eugene Oregon. The key thing I have discovered is:

If you do school choice wrong, you will end up with increased segregation that will result in harming the educational opportunities of the most at risk students.

Eugene 4J, under Tom Payzant, implemented a school choice program 30 years ago. Magnet schools were established, most at the elementary level, and parents could seek admission to these schools through a lottery process. I have been told that the schools fairly quickly became segregated -- and they remain segregated today, some highly so. The magnet schools also have benefits that are not provided to the neighborhood schools. They attract easier to educate students, with active parents who contribute time and funds to the school, and because entrance is at only one time of the year, they have considerable stability.

The district has made some limited efforts at addressing the problem, but it is exceptionally hard to take privileges, even unfair privileges, away from the more advantaged, politically connected families.

The following comments are based on the insight I have gained through several years of "fighting" about the local situation, combined with lots of research and analysis to be sure I understand the issues.

I think the bottom line that must be recognized when considering any choice program is that there are some parents who will never choose because their situation in life does not allow them to do so. These are the families who are in "survival mode." Just getting through the day is a challenge. The children in these families are most at risk for failure. Lower performing schools are lower performing because they are providing education to a larger percentage of students from families that are in survival mode.

When you establish a school choice program that allows or encourages parents to remove their children from a lower performing school, the only parents who will be able to exercise this choice option are those who are not in survival mode. This approach may be helpful for those children who move from a lower performing school to a middle class school -- but it will only result in the aggregation of a higher concentration of students from families in survival mode at the lower performing school -- and thus will lead to greater failure. This spiral of decline will jeopardize the most vulnerable students.

It appears that the only school choice approach that will not result in this kind of an aggregation of the hardest to educate children is an approach that places the most exciting educational options IN those schools that serve the most at risk students. If you create the exciting educational opportunities IN these schools, you can provide the enrichment that is missing in the homes of the most at risk students. Plus you can better retain the students whose parents are not in survival mode, and hopefully attract more students from the middle class schools. This approach can also help to encourage residential integration b3cause middle class families can move into a region knowing that the school in the region has a good program.

A critical aspect of such an attraction program is ensuring that the program in the school is able to very effectively serve more competent students -- because no parent of a "ready to learn" child is going to want his or her child sitting in class doing nothing while the teacher is focusing solely on the needs of the struggling students. The school program must be designed to mee the needs of all students -- challenged through gifted across multiple intelligences.

It is likely that a placing highly attractive programs in the schools in the most at risk regions should be combined with a regional controlled choice program. There may be some areas where the swaths of residential poverty may be too great, but if the district can combine several school regions that include middle class schools and one or more attraction program schools and then have all parents in the combined region apply to the schools, indicating 1st choice, 2nd choice, etc and then balance by socioeconomic status, the district could achieve more economic integration in all of the schools. But if you try to implement regional controlled choice without creating an exciting attraction program in the school(s) in the most at risk region, the regional controlled choice program will fail.

By keeping the regional controlled choice program limited to 3 - 5 elementary schools, the district should be able to provide busing without having to bus students too far from their home. If a group of elementary schools ultimately aggregate their sutdents in a middle school, this would be the best group to form into a regional approach. Parents looking ahead to middle school will still feel that their child is in a neighborhood school.

I think the current approach of NCLB will merely ensure that some children are left very far behind.

Nancy

I am certain that children who are poor will perform better academically if they attend a middle class school. However, I have observed in America when the population becomes too poor, too much of color, the school will experience white middle-class flight. As a result, the school system is left with beautiful school buildigs that were built for white, middle-class and a student population that is poor and predominantly minority. Therfore, children who are poor are back to square one, going to a school with peers who are poor and very little diversity in ethnic background.

The focus of the article was to encourage students to move from lower socioeconomic schools into middle class schools. But I would ask, why would a student or parent be offered the opportunity to move from a school where they have roots, community and in close proximity to home? The student would not be with friends or family that play an integral part in their child's learning. We know that developing a strong school-home connection begins to lay the groundwork for success. This "move" may weaken this connection.
I would suggest instead that educators be given the opportunity to move into the low, socioeconomic schools. Some educators might not wish to make the change, so why would students really want to do this. But truly committed educators are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of seeing children succeed! There may be incentives offered to make these "moves" happen.

By moving motivated educators into the community school can begin to change the school community with high expectations of all stakeholders.

Good practices in either school are essential. The solution doesn't lie in the moving, but in the ability to inspire students to do their best, support them with teaching and curriculum that meet their learning needs, and ongoing, rich support working as a team with the family and community partners.

As a parent in Berkeley, Ca, with a child at Berkeley High School, I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Eagle. There are white parents of all socioeconomic levels who are quite willing to send their children to schools with large numbers of children of color. Not only that, but many of them pay quite a lot of property taxes for the privilege of doing so. In return, their children are pushed in the hallways by groups of children of color, told implicitly by administrators and some teachers that it is necessary for the school to bend over backwards for students of color, but that white kids have outside resources (not always true - white, even in a good neighborhood, does not always equal wealthy) so white students' needs are less important for the school to attend to, and the administration is so concerned about hiring teachers to serve as role models for the children of color that the ethnicity of the teacher has often seemed to be of greater importance than her ability to teach. My child even has had an African-American classmate say, "you white, you smart - do my work for me!" (The response was "no way! I'll help you do it, but I won't do it for you.") Not exactly what I had hoped for from the integration experience.

I have spent 25 years as a classroom volunteer and teacher, in a variety of schools, from private to inner city. I have seen kids struggle because their families move every 3 months, so they reach 7th grade and still don't know how to multiply and divide. I have seen inner city kids who loved school and learning, but who had to endure ridicule from their classmates for "acting white" (by doing their homework) - in 5th grade. I have seen outstanding teachers who maintained high standards and expectations in their classrooms with great benefit to all of their students, and too many others who (perhaps being unfamiliar with Marva Collins' work) tried to be "sensitive" to the needs of their students with fewer skills and watered down their expectations, with the result that the capable students were literally bored to tears and the ones that needed help found they could protest an assignment loudly enough to get it gutted, so they never had to push themselves to improve. I have also seen those teachers that every administrator "downtown" (Richmond Unified School District) knew were incompetent, but who required too much effort to get rid of (due to the diligence of the teachers' union in preserving jobs rather than encouraging excellence) who did a disservice to all of their students and co-workers by teaching little and caring less.

From these experiences, I doubt that making it easier for children to transfer from a poorly performing school to a higher performing one would solve the problem. I think that Ms Clore is correct - much of the problem stems from the attitudes that children bring to school with them (or pick up in the first few years of school). I have seen kids in all the schools I have worked at who struggle with lack of parental involvement (even in private schools). I know there are families where survival is all they can handle. I like the idea of encouraging competent, experienced teachers to go to low performing schools. I think that these schools also need extra support personnel and longer school days to help these students get the skills they need to do the work they are being asked to do. One school where I taught even sent school buses around to pick up parents to bring them to school for Back to School Nights and Open Houses as most parents didn't drive and the public transportation was iffy at night.

Most parents, even those in survival mode, want a good education for their children. Schools need to become more creative in finding ways to become partners with all parents so that all students in the school can get the best education possible.

Contrary to what one of the earlier writers said, the job of government IS to equalize the educational opportunities available to all of our children. Years ago when someone asked why I spent so much time volunteering with "problem kids" who weren't even in my kids' classes, I said that those "problem kids" would be living in the same world as my kids, and I sure would like them to be able to support themselves legally rather than have them become criminals that my kids would have to support. As another earlier writer said, these kids don't just vanish into thin air when they fail at school. It is up to everyone - white parents, African-American parents, Latino parents, Asian parents, teachers, administrators, and all levels of government - to work together to find a way to improve ALL of our schools.


No Child Left Behind should put the funding in the schools necessary to hire the best teachers.
The budget cuts coming down are once again leaving children and schools behind.

Each school is a unique environment in many ways. Each community of students has certain needs. Removing poor students to better funded schools does not mean those students will be better served.

Even the schools serving the upper class need money. Money is typically prioritized to best serve those who are seen as most likely to succeed. Despite altruistic intentions, this means schools tend to first help the upper class and students with well educated parents.

Money should continue to support successful programs that are in place. Meanwhile, MORE money must be sent to improve schools in communities with higher needs. Underserved families is a societal issue that must be addressed. In addition to money, good administrators and teachers must be attracted to the high needs schools. I believe it takes the BEST educators to properly serve the high needs students.

It is unfair to blame children if they have poor and uneducated families. Such families probably do not choose to be less supportive than the upper class families. To better understand poverty in our country, one would have to pay attention and do the research.

School choice is a rather ironic concept. Public schools should not have to offer choices. Public schools, regardless of the neighborhood or socioeconomic status or "color" of the majority of students, should be pretty much the same. Educational opportunity should and could be extended to all students at whatever school they attend. If a school is doing poorly by whatever standards it is measured, the state or district should direct its' attention to fixing the problem at the school. If a school is "dangerous", the danger should be taken out of the school, not the students. If "good students' are taken out of "bad schools" and transferred to "good schools", the "bad schools" will just get worse.
Bussing was tried and it did not work. There are many different opinions as to why it didn't work. One of my favorite is that the kids who were bussed were the poor black kids, into middle class white schools. Middle class white kids were not bussed into low income black schools.
A good strat would be to look at high achievement schools and ask, what makes them high achieving? If one school can do it, maybe others can too. The problems of low performance and dropping out are everyone's problems. The costs of failure are everyone's costs. If there is not room enough on the Ark, build a bigger Ark. If the bigger Arkdoesn't float, build a better bigger Ark.

Choice as a Way Out of Failing Schools:
I was excited to read Kahlenberg’s commentary containing ideas for changing NCLB choice programs. His focus on disincentives in the present system was right on the money.

Whether it’s because they worry about test scores dropping, or just don’t see what’s in it for them to do otherwise, high performing schools certainly haven’t embraced the opportunity to prove their effectiveness by inviting in large numbers of kids transferring from low performing schools.

I read recently about a North Carolina superintendent from a predominantly white, middle-class school district who hired private investigators to ensure that poor, lower-performing students didn’t “sneak into his schools”. It would have created an “administrative nightmare,” he said.

Mr. Kahlenberg’s specific suggestions to a) provide a grace period before calculating transfer students’ test scores and b) offer financial incentives to schools for actually reaching out to struggling students caught in poorly performing schools are outstanding ideas that, it seems to me, could easily be implemented.

Parents around the country are desperately seeking real options for their children stuck in persistently failing schools. With less than one percent of eligible parents nationwide taking advantage of their NCLB right to transfer out of such schools, much attention has been given to providing more and better information to parents. While that is certainly important, working to correct the disincentives in the program from the school’s side of the equation must also be part of the solution.

Barbara R. Davidson is the President of StandardsWork, Inc. and the Project Director of Parent Power Works.

NO the transfer of low income students to middle class school is no the answer. In Raleigh NC low incoem student are bused to a midle class magnet school.

The prob,e that exists in thess schools are deeply rooted into the issue of social class. Poor children are not wanted in these schools and the message is clear, especially to the student. This does notproduce an environment that is conducive for any child to learn.

Exclusion, rejection and discriminatory and bis treatment causes emotional and psychological damage to children that results in undisciplined behavior and as in the case of Colunbine extreme violence.

We will neve close the achievement gap as long as we refuse to address the real issues surrounding the Mis educaucation of poor and minority students.

I am not certain that relocating students is the cure-all. As a Director of Instruction for a major learning center and a participant in the NCLB program, what we have observed is that the strength of any learning environment is parent involvement and participation. Students perform better, despite lack of income, if Mom and Dad are insistent upon being made aware of their child's achievement.

The "educational gap" become closer to becoming "closed" but does this make us better off. Does this give us better educated children/students? Forced integration of the lower class students into the middle class schools would seem to result in the lower class students struggling to keep up. Teachers would have to slow the class down to accomodate these new slower students. The middle class students that are accustomed to a faster pace will not be learning to their full potential. More focus will have to be shifted to the slower students. So the gap could close by the lower income students learning "more" while the middle income students will be learning "less". This scenario seems to produce more mediocrity than success.

I do not think that children should have to move from one school district to another to get a better education. There is all this talk about accountability, why not make the principals more accountable for hiring qualified teachers and the state for providing the money and incentitives to keep these teachers in low- income areas.

I do not think children should have to move from one district to another for a better education. There is all this talk about accountability, why not make principals more accountable for hiring qualified teachers and the state accountable for providing the money and incentitives to keep these teachers in low-income areas.

I am currently working with the More-at-Four program and I feel that all children regardless of their level in society should be entitled to the best education can provide. Without leaving their neighborhoods to get this education.

My children go to a magnet school in Connecticut that is designed for socio-economic integration...it's one of it's main purposes. The school has existed for 25 years in a high poverty area. A sub group of black minority children failed to make AYP this year. This is not a surprise to me. The teaching staff is dedicated but the leadership is weak, excuses are acceptable, accountability and data assessment are haphazzard, being "innovative" trumps the basics of learning how to read/math. The special education staff has years of expericence and are highly paid but untrained in teaching reading and math as core subjects and appear to have no desire to learn.

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