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Showing posts from 2018

The Sins of Eva Moskowitz

I am appalled at the continued veneration of Eva Moskowitz' Success Academy. She had 73 students when she started and she graduated 16. Who are you kidding? That is a dismal record. And she does this with lots of money from her rich friends. It's disgusting.

From the Curmudgucation:
"But do not pretend this accomplishment is magical or scalable or offers any lessons other schools could learn from. Any school with a mountain of extra money, friends in high places, and the ability to teach only the students that suit it-- any school could do the same under those conditions. If government were willing to mobilize these kind of resources for every school and every school, it would be a great thing. But in the meantime, don't tell me that Moskowitz has accomplished something great and special here. It's a great day for those sixteen students, but as a lesson in how to operate a school system, it's a big fat nothingburger."

Which educational reforms make sense

We have two sets of primary and secondary schools in this country. One set of schools lies in wealthy areas in which student achievement is quite high. The other set of schools lies in poor urban areas or extreme isolated rural areas in which poverty is pervasive and student achievement is dismal. We know what to do to improve the quality of education in under performing schools. As a country, we do not have the will to do it. There are several reforms that will make education so much better for those in poverty.

Increase Early Childhood Education
The Chicago economist, James Heckman, Nobel prize economist, analyzed data from Michigan and North Carolina going back several decades and found that no other infusion of public dollars came close to matching the rate of return of high-quality early childhood education. Heckman's studies in both the Michigan (the Perry Preschool Study) and North Carolina (the Abecedarian preschool program) studies concluded that there were significant he…

Reducing Homelessness

In order to reduce homelessness, our country needs to build low-income housing. The federal government used to build both affordable and low-income housing but doesn't anymore. Now the federal government makes deals with private developers and provides tax breaks of all kinds, so that developers build luxury housing and some affordable housing to qualify for tax credits but developers are not building low-income housing. What is the difference between affordable housing and low-income housing?

The federal Department of Housing and Development (HUD) calculates the Area Median Income (AMI) every year for every metropolitan area. AMI is the average household income for a metropolitan area. Let's use New York City metropolitan area as an example. In 2017, the AMI was $85,900 for a family of three. So if a locality defined 50% of the AMI as being low-income, that would mean the maximum income for such a status would be half of $85,900 or $42,950. You can see from these calculations…

Mayor de Blasio admits homelessness cannot be eliminated immediately.

After four years of blaming his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg, for moving so slowly on housing the homeless, Mayor de Blasio finally admitted that it will take years to house so many homeless people. De Blasio discovered this when the homeless population increased from 50,000 to 62,000 during his administration. Perhaps it isn't all of a mayor's fault.

   To add a different perspective, let us take a look at New York State and its inability to commit resources to the city's problem. During the Bloomberg administration, the state cut funding to the homeless from $164 million in FY2002 to $110 million in FY2012, a 33 percent cut.  In addition, the state cut the funding to one of the few programs to permanently house the homeless, the Advantage Program. Not only did the state cut the program, but the state also passed legislation that the city could not use other state funds for the program.

   Then of course there is the federal government that has cut millions of dollars ou…

How Poverty Affects Children's Education

The greatest complaint I have of educational reformers is their belief that our public schools should be able to educate children even if the children come from poverty. It is poppycock. The research over years has demonstrated that poverty has demonstrative effects on children's learning. Let me cite a few examples of that research using Eric Jensen's article, "How Poverty Affects Classroom Engagement."Health affects the poor. The poor have more untreated ear infections and hearing loss issues (Menyuk, 1980); greater exposure to lead (Sargent et al., 1995); and a higher incidence of asthma (Gottlieb, Beiser, & O'Connor, 1995) than middle-class children. Each of these health-related factors can affect attention, reasoning, learning, and memory. Nutrition plays a crucial role as well. Children who grow up in poor families are exposed to food with lower nutritional value. This can adversely affect them even in the womb (Antonow-Schlorke et al., 2011). Moreover,…

Education is big business

The United States has the highest poverty rate in the developed world. It has the second highest poverty rate for children (23.1%) in the developed world beaten only by Romania. Sheldon Danziger, the director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan said:  “Among rich countries, the U.S. is exceptional,” he said. “We are exceptional in our tolerance of poverty.”

   In the last post, I documented how horrific poverty is for children's well being. How do we educate our children when almost 1/4th are dealing with poverty issues - poor health, terrible nutrition, sometimes horrible lives with homelessness and domestic violence, and meager preschool education? We don't. We have a bifurcated school system, one for the well to do richly funded with great results, and the other, usually in the inner cities or rural countryside, that is poorly funded with failing results. This story has not changed for decades. The reformers have changed. Once we had education…