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Private School Parents Are Stealing Public School Dreams


Stashed in: Wealth!, Education!, Parents, San Francisco!, Awesome, Poverty

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Perhaps overly provocative title, but here is the money quote: "White students — a proxy for the affluent —  just 13 percent of the SFUSD K-12 population. Eighty-five percent of all white students in San Francisco are in private schools."

Geez. That's a crazy huge number of parents paying for private school!!

Would a voucher system fix this?  Allow non-whites to go to private school, and on top of it, make schools compete for students, no resting on your laurels.  Some of the public school system is good, most is average, and some are horrible; which is why people are paying out of pocket to put their kids in schools other than public.  The sad thing is, with entrenched systems, we usually can't change things, even if there is a better way.

Not sure a voucher system will fix this but it seems like that would accelerate the demise of public schooling.

Then again, reading an article like this reminds me that public schooling has already been supplanted by alternatives if the parents have any choice in the matter.

I had no idea so few well-off parents consider public school in San Francisco anymore. It's sad.

I can't speak to SF, but I can speak a little bit as a board member and parent of a child at a non-profit public charter school here in Indiana (http://ncs.k12.in.us). Taxation and rules are different here in Indiana (a lot of money for schools comes directly from the state, funded by sales taxes), so it's not the usual property taxes -> local schools funding.

There is discussion of a voucher system here in the state. As I understand it, vouchers would directly benefit us, because we don't receive any of the local property tax funding as a charter school.

Still, I have very mixed feelings about it. If we view the public school system as a Public Good, pulling money from it won't help. A better educated populace, across class boundaries, benefits everyone IMHO. Vouchers are likely to make problems worse for students growing up in poverty -- and there are more and more kids living poverty in the US every year.

I am not an expert on these issues in general -- I know about my son, and my small charter school (about 220 students). But I do know this: the absolute strongest indicator of school performance is socio-economic status of the community. It's a correlation, not causation, but its by far the strongest correlation we have. While it's a complex issue with no easy answers, it does seem that fighting poverty is one way to address this. And I believe strongly that not addressing education in communities with low socio-economic status ensures that most of these kids will die poor, just as they were born poor.

See:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/poverty-children-us-2011_n_3489368.html (ughh, huffpost, but it does have links to where they got their data)

http://profile.educ.indiana.edu/Portals/131/Toutkoushian%20Curtis%20JER%202005.pdf

http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/IN_State_Report_CREDO_%202011.pdf

http://www.education.com/reference/article/socioeconomic-status/ (I'm suspicious of web articles like this, but it at least has a biblio)

I can't speak to SF, but I can speak a little bit as a board member and parent of a child at a non-profit public charter school here in Indiana (http://ncs.k12.in.us). Taxation and rules are different here in Indiana (a lot of money for schools comes directly from the state, funded by sales taxes), so it's not the usual property taxes -> local schools funding.

There is discussion of a voucher system here in the state. As I understand it, vouchers would directly benefit us, because we don't receive any of the local property tax funding as a charter school.

Still, I have very mixed feelings about it. If we view the public school system as a Public Good, pulling money from it won't help. A better educated populace, across class boundaries, benefits everyone IMHO. Vouchers are likely to make problems worse for students growing up in poverty -- and there are more and more kids living poverty in the US every year.

I am not an expert on these issues in general -- I know about my son, and my small charter school (about 220 students). But I do know this: the absolute strongest indicator of school performance is socio-economic status of the community. It's a correlation, not causation, but its by far the strongest correlation we have. While it's a complex issue with no easy answers, it does seem that fighting poverty is one way to address this. And I believe strongly that not addressing education in communities with low socio-economic status ensures that most of these kids will die poor, just as they were born poor.

See:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/poverty-children-us-2011_n_3489368.html (ughh, huffpost, but it does have links to where they got their data)

http://profile.educ.indiana.edu/Portals/131/Toutkoushian%20Curtis%20JER%202005.pdf

http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/IN_State_Report_CREDO_%202011.pdf

http://www.education.com/reference/article/socioeconomic-status/ (I'm suspicious of web articles like this, but it at least has a biblio)

Ed, thank you for the links. I think we all have mixed feelings about this.

The current situation is not good in many ways, but the current system resists change.

Fighting poverty would definitely help.

Vouchers might help, or it might increase the divide. Unclear to me.

Have you ever been to a supermarket in a low-income area? There's always people rolling up in taxicabs to do their shopping. The reality is that they don't have cars, and the public transit system isn't conducive to hauling home groceries, especially if you're elderly -- lotta grandmoms raising kids in lower-income areas -- and/or in poor health.

Or here's another story: one of my little cousins won a city-wide competition to attend Stuyvesant High School (super-competitive public school in Manhattan). But she lived on Staten Island, and her commute to school every morning involved a bus to the ferry, the ferry, and then the subway. Her parents did not help her with any of this, not even waking her up in the morning. If you've ever been a teenager you might understand why she was flunking out of her first period Spanish class -- and thus out of school -- despite having good fluency in Spanish!

When I lived in Chicago, I briefly had a high-school intern who worked 40 hours a week at a movie theater so he could afford just the means to transport himself to a charter school -- plus give money to his moms. I'll never forget one time telling him that he needed to learn to touch-type if he wanted to become a programmer... and the next week he had taught himself to do it! But he got in a fight at school and was cut from the internship program... I think 3 fights and you're expelled from school. And let's face it, at some schools you can't exactly choose when you fight: if you don't answer the bell today, you will be facing bullying every day until you do.

So whenever I see stuff about charters or vouchers, I think about young friends like this. Choice is constricted by logistics for the poor and it always will be. A lot of things that are regularly skated over for well-to-do kids become big problems when you don't have money or a car. To think otherwise is to ask an awful lot of people to be heroic beyond belief.

You're right, I've never seen someone take a taxi to a supermarket.

There's an entire world that I just haven't seen.

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