By Diane Ravitch @ Diane Ravitch’s Blog
Striking the more money equals better education theme I have been advancing for a few months now, a North Carolina teacher breaks down the recent PISA data to reveal yet more truth about the depth of inequity in the United States education system. Of course this is not exactly a new notion, but one that seems to be absent from media reports and edreformers.
In her blogpost, Ravitch showcases North Carolina teacher, Daniel Wydo’s analysis of the PISA results based on income. Looking at United States schools with less than 10% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch methinks our rankings would elicit a much different media and political response. Here is how we would stack up:
U.S. schools with less than 10% free/reduced – score=556 [1st in the world]
U.S. schools with less than 10% free/reduced – score=559 [1st in the world]
U.S. schools with less than 10% free/reduced – score=540 [5th in the world]
Those are remarkably different results now aren’t they? I would still submit that the rankings don’t matter and that it is impossible to make the kinds of comparisons the league table is attempting make. Plus, there is enough evidence for me to seriously question the validity of the whole enterprise.
Wydo’s work is yet another piece of evidence highlighting the show-me-the-where-the-money-is-and-I-will-show-you-where-the-good-schools reality in which we find ourselves in the United States. What is even worse, “nationally on average about 50% [of students] qualify for free/reduced lunch,” which is pretty hard to defend. Wydo continues.
One has to wonder why our media continues to barely report the connection between child poverty and their performance at school. The school reformers want nothing to do with it other than to claim there are miracle schools and teachers out there, although upon further analysis these are the schools that usually game the system and do a ‘data dance’ – most namely, charter schools.
Of course, the data Wydo presents completely torpedoes the myth of Americas broken schools, not that anyone making decisions will take into consideration. It simply doesn’t fit with the edreform agenda bent on manipulation, coercion, union busting, and exploitation of public money.
Even more interesting is Wydo’s comparison of schools and teachers with police forces. He posits a few questions including, “Are our urban and rural schools and teachers ‘failing’ or ‘struggling’ any more than our urban or rural police forces?” and “Can you imagine police unions if we were to erase officer tenure, step ladder structure for pay increases, LIFO, and bust their unions – and then demonize them because they can’t seem to solve the crime problems of our urban areas?” Aside from being evocative questions, the comparison has some novelty worth reusing.
Wydo’s analysis is fascinating and should be widely read. The broken system is not education but the economy, which continues to only put a shinier patina on a New Gilded Age.