How We Are Ruining America – by David Brooks – NYT

“Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.

How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.

Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.”

Lots to think about. Thank you David Brooks.

How Google Took Over the Classroom – The New York Times

“In the space of just five years, Google has helped upend the sales methods companies use to place their products in classrooms. It has enlisted teachers and administrators to promote Google’s products to other schools. It has directly reached out to educators to test its products — effectively bypassing senior district officials. And it has outmaneuvered Apple and Microsoft with a powerful combination of low-cost laptops, called Chromebooks, and free classroom apps.

Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs, the company said. And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose, are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.

“Between the fall of 2012 and now, Google went from an interesting possibility to the dominant way that schools around the country” teach students to find information, create documents and turn them in, said Hal Friedlander, former chief information officer for the New York City Department of Education, the nation’s largest school district. “Google established itself as a fact in schools.” “

.School Vouchers Aren’t Working, but Choice Is – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Unlike most voucher programs, many charter-school systems are subject to rigorous evaluation and oversight. Local officials decide which charters can open and expand. Officials don’t get every decision right, but they are able to evaluate schools based on student progress and surveys of teachers and families.As a result, many charters have flourished, especially in places where traditional schools have struggled. This evidence comes from top academic researchers, studying a variety of places, including Washington, Boston, Denver, New Orleans, New York, Florida and Texas. The anecdotes about failed charters are real, but they’re not the norm.

Douglas Harris, a Tulane professor, says the difference between charters and vouchers boils down to “managed competition” versus the “free market.” Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan talks about charters’ successfully combining flexibility and accountability. Joshua Angrist of M.I.T. says, “Flexibility alone is not enough.”Crucially, many charters are open to all comers, which means their success doesn’t stem from skimming off the best. And the schools’ benefits extend beyond test scores to more meaningful metrics, like college graduation.”

Bravo David Leonhardt. Your excellent analysis reminds me that John V. Lindsay was a supporter of charter schools when the idea was much newer.

Here is an interesting comment that is more skeptical than mine, and bears attention:
WFGersen Etna, NH 1 hour ago

I am a progressive with 29 years as a public school superintendent in 5 different states in the Northeast and here’s what I know to be true: traditional public schools, governed by elected school boards in communities that can afford to provide generous funding for small class sizes, a wide array of programs, and teacher training do far better than any schools in America. Unfortunately for our country, these well financed districts are invariably located in our country’s most affluent communities whose housing costs of housing preclude the enrollment of parents who earn poverty-level wages. If we are serious about making public education a “powerful force for accelerating economic growth, reducing poverty and lifting middle-class living standards” we should fund ALL districts at the same level as our most affluent ones. In 2015, Scarsdale spent $31,005/pupil. The State mean was $23,370. New Rochelle, within commuting distance of Scarsdale, spent $22,584. Scarsdale taxpayers, who chose to spend roughly $7,500 more than the State mean and roughly $8,500 than their neighbors to the south believe spending on public education matters… and I know New Rochelle could do a lot with the $28 million in additional funds they would have if their per pupil spending matched Scarsdale.

Choice advocates like Mr. Leonardt sidestep questions of inequitable funding and the housing patterns that underly these disparities in spending. As a progressive, I believe we need to face these issues.


Communities of Character – david brooks, The New York Times

“Last week I visited the Leaders School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which is a glowing example of community cohesion. This is a school with roughly 300 students who speak between them 22 languages. Eighty-five percent are on free and reduced lunch. Last year the graduation rate was an amazing 89 percent and every single graduate went to college. The average SAT score was 411 math and 384 verbal.The school’s approach and curriculum is organized by Outward Bound. (This newspaper’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., once was chairman of the NYC Outward Bound Schools chapter.)”

Source: Communities of Character – The New York Times

Time to Fix the Fafsa – The New York Times

“Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan, says that the information needed to calculate eligibility for aid is already collected by the Internal Revenue Service. In a simplified system, she says, tax filers could just check a box on their 1040 and immediately learn of their eligibility for federal grants and loans.”

Source: Time to Fix the Fafsa – The New York Times

Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs – The New York Times

Too many law school graduates drown in debt.

“WILMETTE, Ill. — Ten months after graduation, only 60 percent of the law school class of 2014 had found full-time long-term jobs that required them to pass the bar exam.”

via Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs – The New York Times.

Removing the application for federal aid would encourage more qualified low-income students to apply to college.|By Susan Dynarski

This article makes sense to me. Follow the data. My FAFSA form was so long, it included all of my income tax form anyway, so they might as well just use them, and drop the fafsa form.
Susan Dynarsky wrote “To quantify just how much the aid bureaucracy discourages college attendance, a team of economists ran a randomized trial in which families applied for aid in a radically simplified process. The results were striking: The streamlined process increased the share of low-income young people who attended college for two years by eight percentage points (to 36 percent from 28 percent).”

Removing the application for federal aid would encourage more qualified low-income students to apply to college.|By Susan Dynarski