Friday, July 01, 2005

Race and Education in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook is an excellent source of information on the School District. Their summer report (found here) on racial inequities in the District is very interesting.

It is an analysis of new demographic data released by the District. The Notebook article finds that there are still “persistent inequities in resources and achievement” based on race in the Philadelphia's schools.

Among other important facts mentioned in the article is this:
A 2003 study conducted by Research for Action found that over a three-year period, gaps in the percentage of uncertified teachers between the District’s predominantly nonwhite schools and schools with more White students had actually widened. A recent analysis updating these trends found that gaps in certification, turnover rates, and teacher experience persist.

School CEO Paul Vallas is implementing an array of new programs, which he argues will “lift all boats,” but take a look at this article and see how much more slowly progress has been achieved for students of color.

3 Comments:

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Dan_Is_a_Troll said...

You ever think people of color get tired of having their problems always made just about that, color? Ain't no difference between growing up in a trailer park or an urban neighborhood. Goto a trailer-park dominated school district, they have the same problems.

 
At 9:58 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

Education policy is not something I know a lot about, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

First, the acheivment gap here, and nationally, is problemtatic. Even in well heeled, suburban school districts, there are similar problems.

Why?

Well, I guess that is the big question, and does not have a short answer. But, I think it has to do with a lot of things. I guess I would want to hear what Vallas has to say about it. But we have a real good news bad news thing here: all scores for all kids are going up, a wonderful thing. But, the gap is growing, which is pretty damn disheartening.

As for the specific comparisons between the years, it is in many ways a litle hard to compare the acheivment gaps, because we also do not know the other factors, besides race. IE, it seems like there are indications, whether from job or housing data, that indicates Philly is becoming more stratified. Potentially, that could be what we are seeing here.

Also troubling, from the same article, is simply the level of segregation in our schools, which is only growing and growing. At an educational level, integration has failed. And given that all races still live within resonably close proximity to each other, and that Philadephia has a healthy mix of backgrounds, it is truly disturbing how many schools are only one color.

And, of course there is the money issue, and, it is a sad commentary that under the administration of a Governor who ran using pretty transformative language about education funding, that the gap in spending is getting worse and worse.

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger Dumplingeater said...

Regarding all scores going up for all kids being a wonderful thing:

I wouldn't say that test scores going up is a bad thing per se, but I am very leery about making assumptions based on test scores as a measure of anything particularly valuable. As an educator, I strongly feel that at best standardized testing is a symptom of many of the problems with our educational system; However, at worst, standardized testing is the one of the single most pedagogically destructive aspects of our educational system. This is not the place for a more detailed diatribe about the evil of standardized testing, but I will say that it is one of the features of our schools that enables them to essentially function as a sorting system that ultimately only perpetuates the status quo of our social class structure. Other measures, such as the racial stratification and disproportionate and insufficient funding mentioned in the posts and the referenced article, are far more valid means for evaluating progress. The fact that Vallas and other figureheads elevate test scores above others as a valid tool for measuring educational progress, and in fact view raising test scores as a primary goal unto itself, should be viewed very skeptically.

 

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