"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A No-Brainer, Really...

This may qualify for some as "dog-bites-man", but here's a nice little precis on the link between family structure and educational outcomes. Unsuprisingly, kids in two-parent households do better across the board.

Where I live, there are two public elementary schools nearby. One is fairly diverse but mostly serves reasonably well-off folks with mostly intact families (and children of foreign graduate students). The other has a much larger population of public housing kids, almost entirely black and almost entirely from single-parent families. It's been striking how many of our friends, though thoroughly liberal and deeply committed to public schooling, have already decided that they won't send their kids to the second school if they can't get into the first. Not surprising, but a bit striking.

17 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

That's a point I hear over and over again about public schools that are "bad." The basic complaint is that it is difficult to maintain order and keep learning first in the classroom. I don't think that has anything to do with race or economics. I think it has everything to do with family structure. A single parent is far more likely to succumb to parenting and kid management fatigue and finally just let the kid do what they want.

Tlaloc said...

"Where I live, there are two public elementary schools nearby. One is fairly diverse but mostly serves reasonably well-off folks with mostly intact families (and children of foreign graduate students). The other has a much larger population of public housing kids, almost entirely black and almost entirely from single-parent families. It's been striking how many of our friends, though thoroughly liberal and deeply committed to public schooling, have already decided that they won't send their kids to the second school if they can't get into the first. Not surprising, but a bit striking."

You might want to go back and notice that one school consists of the rich and the other of the poor. That probably has just a little something to do with it. The high schools in Lake Oswego (local rich area) even the public ones have facilities far surpassing those of the middle income and absolutely blowing away those of the poorer areas.

Not exatly a shock when the schools are supported by local taxes.

So perhaps the important "dog bites man" lesson here is that schools with money fare better than those without.

Michael Simpson said...

Sorry, tlaloc, the schools are within the same district and receive the same money per student. Indeed, the suspect school has a brand new building (typically ugly, but new). To the degree that there is an economic disparity, it's with the families, not the school funding. Class certainly matters, but it's not just a one-way causal street.

Hunter Baker said...

Michael, meet Tlaloc. He's generally going to challenge virtually every statement you make that doesn't gel with his interesting worldview brew of secular-humanist-collectivist-anarchist. Aside from that, he IS tireless.

Tlaloc said...

"Sorry, tlaloc, the schools are within the same district and receive the same money per student."

What do you want to bet if we sat down with both schools total budgets we might find some rather large discrepencies?

Tlaloc said...

"Sorry, tlaloc, the schools are within the same district and receive the same money per student."

Tell you what, what are the names of the two schools? I know you want to keep your personal identity private and I have no problem with that, but surely simply knowing what schools you live near won't let anyone know who you are personally.

Hunter Baker said...

Tlaloc, this is one of those times when you go beyond what is acceptable. We can take it for granted that Michael, who has young children and is a taxpayer in a school district and happens to be politically savvy, knows whereof he speaks with regard to the local system.

Facilities never made public education. My father attended a little country school in Tennessee, but it is clear to me when we compare notes that he received a much better education at the primary and secondary levels than I did. This is one of those areas where a strong community and family ethos trumps the bucks every time.

Hunter Baker said...

One more thing, T, you might have noticed that several of the TRCers never take the time to respond to you. You might want to spar more chivalrously and make sure you keep some debate partners lined up.

Michael Simpson said...

Sorry, tlaloc, no can do - that would be a bit too much information. So I guess you'll just have to trust me a bit - both schools are in the same county (actually, within a couple of miles of one another) and funded on a per-student basis by both the state and county respectively. Differentials in property taxes are irrelevant (since they draw on the same property base) and, if anything, the less desirable school probably gets *more* money since its students are, in general, poorer than the other. You're barking up the wrong tree here.

Tlaloc said...
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Tlaloc said...
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Tom Van Dyke said...

One does not walk into another man's home and hold him a liar until he proves otherwise. It violates the spirit of comity, if not common decency.

"Mr. Simpson" is at home here, and all others are his guests. If he cannot be yielded the benefit of the doubt on a given point, registering a polite demurral for the record will suffice.

Tlaloc said...
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Tlaloc said...
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James Elliott said...

What do you want to bet if we sat down with both schools total budgets we might find some rather large discrepencies?

This is where T's point about property taxes is telling. I grew up in Santa Clara County's second richest school district and spent the 2004-2005 school year working in its second poorest high school district. Per student funding is a meaningless measure of funds. "Poor" schools typically have more students to spread the funding around and, thanks to NCLB, often have their state and federal shares reduced due to "poor performance", leaving less funds to go around. Schools with "problems" also have additional spending requirements that tend to further shrink their budgets - more facilities repairs, more maintenance and security staff, that sort of thing. Per pupil spending is merely a formula - you have X students, you get Y dollars - but is not reflective of actual costs (busing will cost more in a poor area versus a wealthy or middle class one, for example).

Facilities spending is typically funded by bonds, and is not a facet of per pupil spending.

Further, per pupil spending fluctuates wildly in real dollars when you factor in things like parental support, fund raising, that sort of thing. Michael, you state that they're in the same county, but are they in the same district? This is a vital detail in school funding and could, potentially, completely undermine your argument. Since you state that parents have the choice of sending to one or the other, I'll assume they're in the same district.

This is not to diminish Michael's initial point which is that parental involvement is key to child development, not just educationally. For interested parties, I recommend Googling "Project Cornerstone" of California First Five. They've identified some 50 developmental factors key to a child's growth and education.

Tlaloc said...

Gosh what a surprise. When confronted with an opinion he doesn't care for Tom deletes it. And yet he has the guts to accuse others of being rude.

We've done this dance before Tom. Remember that when you start these petty battles of will I win because quite frankly I have the free time. Why you keep picking battles you can't win is beyond me, but by all means lets demonstrate the foolishness once more.

As a side note, to Mr. Simpson: If you want to be respected enough that you can expect people to simply take your word as support for an argument then you are best steering far from Mr. Dyke's petulant mannerisms.