The Long Shadow of Poverty and School Segregation by Income
One of the serious problems posed by the likely Trump administration’s policy on public education is that it sidesteps entirely the deeply troubling challenges on the ground for children and their teachers. While the only education idea being mentioned by the new administration is the rapid expansion of privatization—a kind of school choice which has shown itself not only to be unavailable to the poorest children but also threatening to the financial stability of the public schools in the poorest communities, there is indisputable evidence that the standardized test scores by which we now judge schools derive far more from poverty and economic segregation than the school teachers we are blaming. Yet addressing poverty both outside the school and inside has slipped off the radar as, once again, the proposal to privatize is being prescribed as a remedy.
Alexander explains that The Coleman Report, published in 1966, has been misconstrued over the years by those who have used it to prove that “schools make no difference” and to insist that we accept a binary explanation for school achievement as driven (or held back) by either the school or the family.