Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Here are some interesting September education reads from around the web:

This is the Way the College Bubble Ends; Not with a Pop but a Hiss, by Derek Thompson for The Atlantic.  Thompson writes about the multiple causes of decreases in college enrollment, using a series of charts to illustrate his points. He indicates:

"For decades, population growth after World War II fed the demand for new colleges. But with a relatively strong economy, combined with political and social pressure to restrain tuition growth, colleges are finding it hard to attract students at an ever-rising price point. Last year was the worst year for school closings this century."

Here's another article by Thompson in the Atlantic, entitled The Myth of American Colleges as Inequality-Fighters, in which the author writes about the fiction surrounding American Colleges' role in creating upward mobility. A quote from the article:

"Poor students who graduate from Ivy League universities (and their equivalents like Stanford, Duke, and MIT) have a much better shot at entering the top 1 percent than low-income graduates of other colleges. But these hyper-selective schools are also hyper-elite. A child from the richest 1 percent of families is 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy (or an equally selective college) than a child from a family in the poorest quintile."

Michigan Gambled on Its Charter Schools. Its Children Lost by Mark Binelli for the New York Times. This is a very long, fascinating article about the evolution of charter schools in the state of Michigan, and the effect on public schools and children around the state.

Binelli writes: "In reality, however, a 2017 Stanford University analysis found that increasing charter-school enrollment in a school district does little to improve achievement gaps. And in unregulated educational sectors like Michigan’s, there’s evidence that charters have actually increased inequality: A 2015 working paper by the Education Policy Center determined that Michigan’s school-choice policies “powerfully exacerbate the financial pressures of declining-enrollment districts” — and districts with high levels of charter-school penetration, the authors found, have fared worst of all."

We've referenced Gary Rubinstein's blog before. In this post, Underachievement School District Superintendent Resigns In Disgrace, he provides a brief history of the Achievement Schools District in Memphis, Tennessee, one of the most ballyhooed charter experiments of the recent past.

"Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools - That's a Mistake" is another Atlantic article, this one by Erika Christakis. She writes abut the prevailing negative attitude about public schools, but disputes much of the evidence behind such attitudes. For example, on unions protecting bad teachers:

"But unions are not the bogeyman we’re looking for. According to “The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers,” a well-designed study by Eunice S. Han, an economist at the University of Utah, school districts with strong unions actually do a better job of weeding out bad teachers and retaining good ones than do those with weak unions. This makes sense. If you have to pay more for something, you are more likely to care about its quality; when districts pay higher wages, they have more incentive to employ good teachers (and dispense with bad ones)."

And, finally, a post from the Integrated Schools blog, written by the founder of the organization. Civics, Community, and Allyship: Why We Chose Our Local Public School. It's a good read, and provides a perpsective from folks who have chosen their local public school. One quote from the post:

"Here’s why we CHOSE this school.

Because it IS a good school, with loving parents, teachers, and administrators. Without the glossy brochures, the extra fancy professional development, the “team-building.”

Because there is no lottery, no admissions process, no wait list. No back door secret enrollment policies. You live in this neighborhood; this school belongs to you.

Because it is a school brimming with potential and excellence, despite many families and people in our neighborhood who ignore it or don’t consider it worth attending and supporting"