Why are Low-income children screwed when it comes to getting a good education?

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New studies show that a quality education in America is now increasingly only available to the very rich. A study out of Stanford shows that the gap in standardized testing scores between rich students and low-income students has increased 40% since the 1960’s.

And another study out of the University of Michigan shows that gap between rich and low-income students when it comes to college completion – which is the single biggest factor when it comes to succeeding in the economy – has grown 50% since the 1980’s. As the New York Times reports, “The changes are tectonic, a result of social and economic processes unfolding over many decades.” Those social and economic processes are called Reagan, Clinton, and Bush-onomics.

In the last 30 years, thanks to the Reagan Tax Cuts, Clinton’s attack on welfare and embrace of Free Trade, and Bush’s Great Depression – our economy only benefits the very rich. And with public education budgets being slashed around the nation – and taxpayer dollars being diverted to for-profit schools – the one great equalizer in America – our education system is under attack.

Thom Hartmann Administrator's picture
Thom Hartmann A...
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Ahh, the American dream. Over the years it has become harder and harder to achieve. A house with a little white fence, a family, a good job with a chance for a nice retirement or even better, a chance to become "rich". The American dream is supposed to be availiable for ALL no matter their circumstances. As long as one is willing to become well educated and work hard for what they want. Now they want to take away one of the very essential tool required to achieve that dream. Soon the American dream will be available for the one's who can afford it only and then the whole idea of the greatness of America will just be a sham.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

Public education costs the rich. It therefore must be eliminated. Besides, they can have India or China pay, to educate their people, and then employ them for 1/10th of an American. It is a win win, for the rich.

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Phaedrus76
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Sep. 14, 2010 8:21 pm

Ira Shor's "Culture Wars" is one of the most expansive accountings of the school "reform" movement. I suggest everyone check it out to see what they're doing. I don't think it's any kind of conspiracy, but rather, someone punching us in the face.

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joh_b_simms
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Feb. 10, 2012 11:16 am

Technocratic education is job preparation in place of vocation. It robs the student of his/her narrative and use of innate curiosity to become catechetical vassals whose 'minds' must be filled with dogma and information to be used in preset manners. Shut up and learn. The intelligent and creative drop out. The drones get good grades and 'succeed.' Then they crash and burn as humans.

When we learn to love the students and respect them as learners, we will all learn something of value. This is what distinguishes educators from trainers and catechists.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thom is wrong on one point here. The single most important factor to succeeding in the economy is the SES of your parents. There is a higher correlation between your SES and your parents SES than there is educational attainment or achievement. That said, people who have a college degree on average make about $1 million more over a lifetime than those without it.

Standardized test scores gaps are getting worse but that doesn't necessarily indicate poorer schools (although I acknowledge this is probably a factor due to state budget cuts to education almost every year for almost 2 decades). What this could indicate, in addition, is that the effects of poverty are greater. This could be for two possible reasons - the depth of poverty is worse now than it used to be, and/or the support networks that used to help are disappearing.

Final thought: The two things that are absolutely proven beyond a doubt in helping students succeed in education, most states and districts will not do because they cost a lot of money = 1) Reduce class sizes to below 17:1 student teacher ratios (this has been shown to be a magic number in class size ratios). AND 2) Extend the school year to go through the summer. There is good evidence in educational research to show that the educational gap remains constant throughout the school year but then widens during the summer months. Middle class kids are in summer activities, camps, summer educational programs, etc. while poor children typically stay home and fend for themselves. There is good reason to believe that if the school year was 12 months then the gap would not widen to the degree it has.

That all requires an expansion of the most expensive part of a school, however - the staff and salaries.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

For those interested in reading the research behing my claims, please see the following:

Corcoran, M. (1995). Rags to rags: Poverty and mobility in the United States. Annual Review of Sociology 21, pp. 237-267.

This article gives an overview of SES and mobility research from the 1960s to the mid 1990s.

Hardaway, C. R. & McLoyd, V. C. (2009). Escaping poverty and securing middle class status: How race and socioeconomic status shape mobolity prospects for African Americans during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 38, pp. 242-256.

This is an overview of more recent research and focuses on both issues of race and SES.

Walpole, M. (2003). Socioeconomic status and college: How SES affects college experiences and outcomes. The Review of Higher Education 27(1), pp. 45-73.

This focuses specifically on College Graduates and their differential outcomes based on their SES growing up. This speaks directly to Thom's point regarding college being the key to success in the economy. While college graduation does help, it is not the whole picture. A short excerpt from Walpole's conclussions:

"This longitudinal quantitative study illustrated the continued capital accumulation and conversion processes that occur within and following college. Students from low SES backgrounds do not follow the same patterns of college and postcollege cultural capital accumulation and conversion as students in general or their high SES peers, reporting different activities within the college environment, as well as lower incomes, educational attainment, and educational aspirations after college. These differences combine to dampen the low SES students’ social mobility."

"This study additionally contributes to research on the cumulative effects of social class in educational settings and attainment and provides new understanding of how individuals from economically disadvantaged homes negotiate the opportunity structure and the process of social mobility... It is not clear how this acquisition of cultural capital and new elements of a student’s habitus occurs in the interaction between students and faculty or between students and their participation in campus activities, although the findings of this study point to such an interaction. Future research may be able to address this issue, also studying whether the acquisition of cultural capital has an effect beyond graduate school attendance."

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

What we do know is that its not all about money. At least in the inner city. I live in the burbs. The inner city schools out spend us by thousands per student. Yet our results are excellent and their results are lousy. We know that it definitely is not a problem that we can solve by throwing money at it.

I think that parents must demand more of their kids. Parents in my neighborhood demand academic excellence.If you don't demand it, you will never get it. If the parents are not serious about education then neither will the kids be. It is nearly impossible for a young, unmarried girl who got pregant several times and dropped out of school to assure that her children are well educated. We could do a lot for education by simply fixing the family. God help em. They are in my prayers.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am

How would you like to "fix the family?" How about making education, healthcare and affordable housing part of the citizen benefits instead of sticking the poor with bad jobs, high bills, expensive groceries and no healthcare if they don't have jobs? Romney's White/rich/blind idea that there is a safety net is absurd. When kids look around at these "high cost inner city schools," do they see the kind of excellent facilities there are in the high income, high property tax suburbs? Of course not, and the idea that we spend more on the poor than is spent in the burbs is also nuts or blind.

It may be that special needs and other conditions make some higher pupil costs, but poverty is expensive and we usually don't pay what those who live with it pay for it. "Benign neglect" was never benign, but it did allow the nation to look away from poverty and blame the 'welfare queen' and parents for the neglect.

And, people get tired and discouraged when they get policed, and when they see crime pay. I found parents in the ghetto no less interested in their kids doing well, but they had so much more in their way that having them not go to jail started to be success. There is a lot of mythology rampant, and if we really wanted to do something about poverty and invest in the poor, we could go a long way to solve what we have allowed.

Check Jonathon Kozol for a number of fine reports from these schools that will change your mind.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

First, there are no kids that have learning disabilities. There are though many forms of teaching disability.

Second, so long as people are dealing with problems of food, shelter and security, education will not be a priority.

Third, the reason poor kids get screwed in America is poor kids have really crummy lobbyists. Maybe if they could afford the fees that the Halliburton guys pay poor kids would get better outcomes.

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Phaedrus76
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Sep. 14, 2010 8:21 pm

I completely disagree with Phaedrus76's sweeping statement that there is no such thing as learning disabilities. This is not relevant to poverty. This is an area that has been studied for many years by knowledgeable, experienced educators and researchers, and there are professionals who provide evalutions when called upon to to do so. Professor Sally Smith of the American University in Washington specializes in ld and founded a private school in D.C. dedicated to serving students with ld, in addition to having written at least one book on the subject. There is a college in New England that exclusively specializes in enrolling and teaching students with ld.

Disabled young people often do have difficult problems. Recently, an autistic (Asperger's Syndrome) teenager who confronted police with a knife in the basement of his own house was fatally shot by police in Calumet City, IL. The boy had a history of acting out in the neighborhood.

American society is not just too pessimistic about the chances of students to make progress; there is also too much optimisim, the old "anyone can pull themselves by their bootstraps" type of mentality. What you have is a complex combination of both too much pessimism in some respects, and too much optimisim in others. Individual circumstances vary, just as the resources of schools vary from one community to another.

Last night, PBS Frontline broadcast the documentary made by two independent film makers called The Interrupters. The film, which was shot entirely in Chicago, concerns the organization CeaseFire. As the name implies, they concentrate on trying to stop acts of violence in inner city neighborhoods. The Chicago director, as the organization also exists in Baltimore and Los Angeles, has served time in prison but since turned his life around and earned a master's degree. The Interrupters are employees, hired from local neighborhoods who know local residents, who either have served time for convictions or had close ties to street gangs. Their job is to try and identify residents who are at risk of engaging in violence and to try and intervene in specific situations to try and prevent the person from acting out. The film focuses on three Interrputers and shows how they work with several individuals and are able to help them turn away from violence and turn their lives around. The film also shows that the problems are both sociological and psychological. Many of the inner city residents have emotional pain from abuse, neglect, alcoholic parents, or coming from broken families. These personal circumstances are only compounded by the larger dysfunctional activities and character of ghetto neighborhoods. The film leaves many questions unanswered which is o.k., because the objective was not to solve the entire problem of urban violence but to simply document some examples of one organization's efforts at conflict resolution and violence reduction while also trying to help people change the direction of their lives. One of the Interrupters, it was mentioned on a local follow-up show shown only in Chicago, is in college studying to become a professional social worker, but none of them start out with a college degree or as professional counselors. CeaseFire has even recruited a few people who were still incarcerated to come work for them after they get out of prison.

Fenger High School on Chicago's South Side was mentioned in the film, because some fights involving several students have broken out right near the school, and no doubt there have been conflicts among students within the building as well. Under these conditions, even the best teachers with up-to-date materials would have difficulty reaching students effectively. I am not sure that anyone knows exactly the best way to bring about classroom order and to teach students who have so many problems on more than one level during a period, adolescence, that is often precarious even for white, middle class students.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I think Phaedrus misses the point in his attempt to defend these kids. A narrow window of epistemology and pedagogy does miss the different way people learn. A lot of learning disabilities are misfits with a narrow way of teaching. Education has moved away from being "child-centered" and open to the nurture of curiosity and a personal story. Instead, we have "standards" and "testing" to see if kids are "keeping up" with the information absorbtion prescribed by the 'educators.'

Different strokes for different strokes begins in pre-school and continues. Ironically, the pedantic approach allows the least creative kids to test well. If you fill up your tank with the lessons, and spew it back each week, you do well. If you have questions, if you see the world askew from the prescribed pattern, you don't. I think we could get rid of almost all the drugs if we were taking each kid seriously as a person and respecting their desire to learn.

Schools also inherit a lot of dysfunction from a culture of death and families stressed to make ends meet. Then there is the anxiety of the suburbs to insure that "your kid" gets into the right school, and that goes back to the right elementary school that will feed into the right intermediate then the right high school, then the right college, to get the right job. And don't dare think about wanting to do something that does not make money.

What school means to kids, what the environment is, how popular or not they are, and how their mind works all is important. The only metric I have ever heard that makes sense to tell if a school is good is whether the student feels cared about and for. Where love is experienced, good things happen.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Doesn't immigration have something to do with it? All things being equal, a student who doesn't speak English on the first day of Kindergarten will be behind the English-speaking student for a time. Not to mention the student who doesn't speak English in 6th grade. A dollar spent on education goes a lot farther in a place like Burlington than it does in Los Angeles. And a dollar spent on education in the 1960's went a lot farther than one spent today.

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Were we to appreciate the value of not being monolingual, the presence of non-English speakers in schools would be much less a "problem." Kids learn languages much better than adults do, so they catch up if given any chance--and were we interested in expanding our own children's skill base, we would make it reciprocal. Kids who don't have breakfast at home don't learn as well as those who do. If their parents cannot help with homework or are working several jobs to make ends meet, they also have less support than others. There are remedies, in and out of school, for these problems too.

Asking schools to make up for social neglect does distort the school budgets, but only because the social budgets are distorted the other way.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote rigel1:

What we do know is that its not all about money. At least in the inner city. I live in the burbs. The inner city schools out spend us by thousands per student. Yet our results are excellent and their results are lousy. We know that it definitely is not a problem that we can solve by throwing money at it.

I think that parents must demand more of their kids. Parents in my neighborhood demand academic excellence.If you don't demand it, you will never get it. If the parents are not serious about education then neither will the kids be. It is nearly impossible for a young, unmarried girl who got pregant several times and dropped out of school to assure that her children are well educated. We could do a lot for education by simply fixing the family. God help em. They are in my prayers.

I'd like to see some actual numbers that can be verified to legitimate this claim. As you can tell, I look at a lot of this reseach and in virtually every case I have seen, the suburbs spend about $10,000 more a year PER STUDENT than innercity schools. It is is HIGHLY unlikely that the inner cities spend more despite federal and state help due to the drastic differences in property taxes.

That said, there is good indication that throwing money into schools does indeed not improve performance. But that is not what I am suggesting is it? I am suggesting POVERTY not school funding is the problem. You can put a kid into a multimillion dollar faciltiy with great teachers but as long as they are going home to crappy neighborhoods, having no good source of health care, malnurished, living in high crime areas, etc. etc. etc., you are correct throwing money at schools will do no good.

Now, investing money in policies that would meaningfully reduce or eliminate poverty is different. There isn't really great research on this because all of it is done as pseudo-experiments - we have never actually done this before so no one can see if it works or not.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote chilidog:

Doesn't immigration have something to do with it? All things being equal, a student who doesn't speak English on the first day of Kindergarten will be behind the English-speaking student for a time. Not to mention the student who doesn't speak English in 6th grade. A dollar spent on education goes a lot farther in a place like Burlington than it does in Los Angeles. And a dollar spent on education in the 1960's went a lot farther than one spent today.

This is not the case if you teach correctly. If the school provides solid instruction in their primary language they typically show no deficits compared to their English Speaking peers in math and science, etc. Additionally, if they are recieving solid instruction in their primary language first, they tend to aquire English much faster. Schools have been doing this incorrecly for decades by trying to emerse the child in English Speaking courses immediately and it does not serve the child well at all. But it sure is cheaper...

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

And, much more importantly, it feeds the anti-immigrant nativism hatred of the non-White. Investing the extra money to do it right saves a lot more down the line, of course. It just does not fit the "know nothing" memes.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Phaedrus76:

First, there are no kids that have learning disabilities. There are though many forms of teaching disability.

I understand your point. That teachers need to know how to teach all kids. Most of the time the struggling kids are given help by a low paid, under appreciated aid. Some of these aides do heroic work. But when budget cuts come, schools think they can save money by cutting the people who don't make any. The kids suffer and the greedy administrators get rich.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am

rigel, every time I see you post on the topic of education, it seals in my mind that you have no idea how that system works. Administrators don't set their own salary, the school boards do. While many administrators get paid a very hefty saraly (typically somwhere in the 70.000 - 150,000 range + benefits), it is not really accurate to say that they are getting rich as a result of firing a teacher's aide. Kids suffer because people like you vote for candidates that cut funding to education. Own your complicity in their plight.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

whats amazing to me is i was just thinkin of this topic and pissed at how poor people have far less of a shot at succeding in school yet the best idea republicans can come up with is to just close those schools that are struggling, save money, and blame the teachers, but not fix the problem in any way. i thought i could come on here and rant about it, but as soon as i come on here there are answers that point out many of the problems and i agree with most of them. they're all points i would have been proud to have spouted off about myself. which begs the larger question of why can multiple random strangers all throw out smart, educated, and reasonable comments that all get to the root causes of this issue as a whole, but the people we put in a possition to do something about it have either given up on these children or dont want to talk about a real solution because they dont care? it is unacceptable even if they believe a certain percent are a lost cause because the remainder of poor children that are not doomed deserve every chance to succede. it may cost more, and it may be harder to reach those students but as a society we have the same responsiblity to those students as we do rich students. we must ensure that all of our children recieve the equal chance at a well rounded education. if u have to spend 10:1 for every student in those areas then so be it. when they grow up to b productive members of our society they will pay that money back ten fold rather than costing money their entire lives. money should b a non-issue. these are our children. they cant choose where to b born or who they are born to. whether its to poor familys, bad parents, or just a terrible location those are big enough challenges to over come to start. we know that a good education can over come all those issues and produce a productive person. so do it no matter what it takes! invest early and invest often seems to work in many other areas of life because people know that if u pay a little more now u can save a lot in the future, but when it comes to children their shortsightedness is madning.

RustyNailz
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Feb. 21, 2012 3:50 am

Rusty Nailz, the beautiful way that you are talking about this subject is the way that I remember the general (liberal) public's attitude was about education in the 1960's....and it is morally correct. We have no way of knowing where geniuses are born, and we have a responsibility to all children if we are a society.

Unfortunately, that is not the way that we are being led today. The people who are today leading our economic issues, directly or through lobbyists, do not feel a resposibility to any children but their own. Narrcisstic personality disorder is the uncurable common cold of most in the global 1%, and sociopathology is their arthritis.

The big picture issue here is getting a grip on bringing back the principles of the American Constitution for our economy, including FDR's Glass-Stegall word-for-word, Hamilton's credit system of banking, and the National Bank. Only then will we be able to bring back the American Dream for ourselves, our children and for everybody.

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Karolina
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Nov. 3, 2011 7:45 pm

It's called Rothchildism... where "We want a nation of workers not thinkers."

They put the fluoride in the water, and ship the drugs in, they want people just smart enough to do their jobs.

Too bad the itnernet didn't come into use in the 1970s and 1980s when education was still valued. The Globalists would not be so far along in their 1969 plan to de-industrialize America making it easier for conquest.

Fortunately people are waking up.

The American Dream Film-Full Length

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGk5ioEXlIM

The internet is the great equalizer when it comes to education and these forums are the classrooms. We now more about the FED and its evil operations at this time than at any other point in history and the education is viral.

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Luap Nol
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Feb. 24, 2012 10:44 am

Here's a radical idea how about debt free money for roads, bridges and education.

How about a Department of Education that sets a floor for High School education inthis country. This way when a Michiganian and a Iowan talk about deoxyriboneucleic acid people in Georgia and Alabama aren't looking at them like aliens.

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Luap Nol
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