Social Class Links 02/06/2015

  • There are some privileged silicon valley parents home schooling their children, and I think that this article misses much of the point. Public school education is not primarily about “social structures that have defined childhood” or accessing information in any particular way. Public education is about educating children together toward self-governance and citizenship, and I’m not clear how we sustain democratic practices when there are so few public institutions within which people from different backgrounds meet and learn from and with one another.

    “There’s something inherently maddening about a privileged group of forward-thinkers removing their children from the social structures that have defined American childhood for more than a century under the presumption that they know better. (And if you want to see how antiauthoritarian distrust can combine malevolently with parental concern, look no further than the Disneyland measles outbreak caused by the anti-vaccine crowd.) I hear you. As a proud recipient of a great public school education, I harbor the same misgivings.”

    tags: socialclass

  • Low -income first graders do “college prep” activities that a teacher made up herself–like first drawing, and then coloring the pennant of the college they want to attend — that they can’t possibly understand and have little to do with actual college life, while upper middle class kids have access to expensive coaching programs in middle school.

    “Barbara Poole is a seventh-grade English teacher at Rachel Carson Middle School in Fairfax County, Va., which is one of the nation’s wealthiest suburbs and home to the perennially top-ranked Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She estimates that 60 percent of her students already know where they want to go to college.

    Ms. Poole was among the first to pilot a middle-school version of Naviance, a college-prep subscription service that high schools offer their students. It’s known for its scattergrams, which reveal the acceptance history of the school’s students to specific colleges by test score and grade-point average. Ms. Poole said the software’s résumé-building feature — it allows students to input extracurricular activities, awards, volunteer work and more — has made her students “more aware” of building that extracurricular record for college.”

    tags: socialclass

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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2 thoughts on “Social Class Links 02/06/2015

  1. Robert May 9, 2015 / 5:50 pm

    My suspicion is that most parents would prefer to send their children to public school if the schools were acceptable. After all, public schools are free and their children would have the opportunity to interact with a wide range of peers and adults. Additionally, public schools are typically closer than the nearest private school. It is also better than homeschooling, which can put a burden on the parent(s).

    As the article states, “Public education is about educating children together toward self-governance and citizenship, and I’m not clear how we sustain democratic practices when there are so few public institutions within which people from different backgrounds meet and learn from and with one another.”
    Comments:
    • “This brings us to the fact that urban public school teachers are about two times more likely than non-teachers to send their own children to private schools.” http://humanevents.com/2013/10/17/where-do-public-school-teachers-send-their-own-kids/
    • Here are some demographics of those who are homeschooled. http://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org/homeschooling-101/homeschool-demographics/ As the homeschooling site shows, homeschooling parents have about the same education level of other parents. Additionally, the parents are typically white with a two parent home and only one parent working outside of the home.
    • And, of course, there are the numerous members of the House and the Senate who did not attended public schools. Not too surprisingly, a large number of the members do not send their children to public schools.

    Let’s assume that increasing the enrollment in our public schools is a worthy goal, how is this done?
    1. Suppose we outlaw private schools and homeschooling. This is not a good approach. The people who are in power will either get waivers or the law will have sufficient loopholes. Additionally, such a law would have the effect of encouraging whites and the middle class to move to the suburbs.
    2. Suppose we improve our schools by spending a lot of money them. This would include such things as new schools, state-of-the-art technology and highly accomplished teachers. Would this increase public school enrollment? Probably not. There is the famous case of the public schools in Kansas City, Missouri. http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.html
    3. If changing the laws and spending large amounts of money will not increase public school enrollment, what will? The reason these two methods will not work is because they assume that this is “school” problem when, in reality, it is a social problem.
    4. O.K. – so what are the causes of our social problems?
    a. Our problems might be caused by others. Such issues as institutionalized racism would be a problem caused by others. Does institutionalized racism exist? Perhaps – but it may not always be what we think it is.
    b. Of course, some of our problems are caused by ourselves. For example, if I am a very violent person, I should not be surprised if I spent a lot of time in jail. And, as many readers must know, many of these social problems are due non-environmental causes. Thus, environmental efforts to fix our social problems are doomed to failure.

    Article” “There’s something inherently maddening about a privileged group of forward-thinkers removing their children from the social structures that have defined American childhood for more than a century under the presumption that they know better.
    Comments:
    • This brings in the advantage of school choice. Let’s assume that these people want what is good for their children. When parents bypass a public school to home-school their children or to send them to a private school, there must be a good reason. My gut feeling is that most parents send their children to private schools for two primary reasons: (1) for a better education and (2) for the safety of their children.
    • Contrarily, let’s assume that homeschooling and private schools are poor choices. Thus, these children will suffer and others will see the advantages of public schools. Thus, in a free market, the public schools would prevail due to their inherent superiority.

    Final Comment: For many parents, homeschooling and private schools have become the only viable alternatives to what they see as the inadequacies of public education. The best way to get these children in public schools is to change the schools; that is, change the students who attend public schools. When we change the students, everything else will fall into place.

    • janevangalen May 12, 2015 / 5:26 am

      Thanks for the long comment here, Robert.

      I fear that I don’t always think that people’s motivations are free of bias — or at best, decisions are not always as informed as you seem to suggest. I worked for a time at with a great, innovative public school that was in a transitioning neighborhood. It was a “choice” school -parents could request sending kids there, even though it was out of their attendance boundary. The staff knew that any parent who actually came to the school would likely want their kids to go there. The challenge was getting parents to get past their perceptions (based on little but vague unease) of the neighborhood and kids who went to the school to actually visit.

      In my own neighborhood, parents all sent their kids to private school but not a single one had ever as much as visited local schools. They were all basing their decisions on gossip, rumors, or just as sense that was was “Best” for their kids was something “better” than what was available to other kids. I’d make friendly suggestions that they just spend an hour going to any area school, and they’d decline, always saying that they’d “heard” x or y about that school. But x and y were just not true.

      so the “good reasons” for choosing alternatives are not always neutral, especially among very privileged parents who, lots of research shows, are often very invested in positioning their children for a life of advantages.

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