It is not pleasant to contemplate, but when poor children go to public schools that serve the poor, and wealthy children go to public schools that serve the wealthy, then the huge gaps in achievement that we see bring us closer to establishing an apartheid public school system. We create through our housing, school attendance, and school districting policies a system designed to encourage castes—a system promoting a greater likelihood of a privileged class and an under class.Of course there are schools (mainly small) and groups of students who continue to beat the odds. In most cases they become the focus of media attention and benefit from the kindness of wealthy patrons, power philanthropists, and an effective PR campaign. But on the whole, Berliner's equations hold up. It's not about "excuses." It's about an increasingly two-tiered system of education.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
David Berliner gets all bell-curvy on us in today's Answer Sheet. But his conclusions are unmistakable and inarguable. If you want to be successful in school and in life, don't be both poor and go to school with other poor kids. The combined effect is devastating. But if you come from a wealthy family and attend a school with other wealthy kids, your life chances are enhanced greatly. While good teachers and schools can and do play a vital role, the compound affect of poverty, segregated schools and housing, on average, have a much more powerful affect on student learning than anything that may happen inside the classroom. I'm sure the "no excuses" crowd will go ballistic over this.