Virtual School Meanderings

January 21, 2020

School Choice Advocacy Report Plays Regression Modeling Games To Make Its Case Against Public Schools

An item from the National Education Policy Center on a slow blogging day.

Report is of little use to policymakers and others with an interest in understanding parent satisfaction associated with school choice.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Publication Announcement

School Choice Advocacy Report Plays Regression Modeling Games to Make Its Case Against Public Schools

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Report is of little use to policymakers and others with an interest in understanding parent satisfaction associated with school choice.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Steven V. Miller:

(864) 656-3233

svmille@clemson.edu

TwitterEmail Address

We are resending this newsletter because the earlier version misidentified the report’s publisher. Although the report’s author identified himself using his affiliations with the Reason Foundation and Cato Institute, we should not have listed those organizations as the publishers of the report. The report’s publisher is now correctly listed as the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. We apologize for our mistake.

BOULDER, CO (January 21, 2020) – A recent report published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University argues that private and charter schools have a strong positive effect on parents’ reported satisfaction with their children’s education.

Steven V. Miller of Clemson University reviewed School Sector and Satisfaction: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Sample, and found critical errors that limit its value to those weighing its policy proposals.

The report presents regression analyses purporting to show that choice parents are more satisfied with their schools than are parents whose children attend their local public schools. It then explains this increased parental satisfaction by pointing to competitive pressures and the importance of reducing the monopoly power of the traditional public school system. Its analyses are based on a nationally representative sample from the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES).

However, Professor Miller explains, the report suffers from two major flaws. First, it saturates the important analyses with over 230 covariates. This amounts to a “garbage can” regression modeling approach that obscures more than it illuminates; variables are misspecified and results are sensitive to the oversaturation of the regression model. A reader versed in statistical modeling will have no confidence in the substance of the findings.

Second, and even more importantly, the report’s decision to focus on just the “very satisfied” overstates the comparative effect of private and charter schools on parent satisfaction. Almost 90% of public school parents are satisfied with their child’s education, and the report’s decision to focus on just the “very satisfied” appears to be a deliberate modeling choice to overstate the purported effects of private and charter schools on parent satisfaction. This appearance is confirmed by the report’s selective use of past research literature, again suggesting an interest in findings that will support advocacy for curtailing the supply of public education.

For each of these reasons, the report is of little or no use to policymakers and others with an interest in understanding parent satisfaction associated with school choice.

Find the review, by Steven V. Miller, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/school-satisfaction

Find School Sector and Satisfaction: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Sample, written by Corey A. DeAngelis and published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, at:

https://edworkingpapers.com/sites/default/files/ai19-147.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2020 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

January 17, 2020

NEPC’s January Education Interview Of The Month Features A Discussion About American Meritocracy

A podcast from the National Education Policy Center.

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Publication Announcement

NEPC’s January Education Interview of the Month Features a Discussion About American Meritocracy

KEY TAKEAWAY:

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Christopher Saldaña:

(303) 492-2566

christopher.saldana@colorado.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (January 16, 2020) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña speaks with Dr. Daniel Markovits, the Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School, about his new book, The Meritocracy Trap.

In The Meritocracy Trap, Markovits outlines the historical roots of meritocracy and the characteristics that made a meritocratic system appealing.

Today, however, critics argue that meritocracy in America is more myth than reality because the majority of American students are not offered real opportunities. Markovits agrees, noting that even as the majority of students are not provided adequate opportunities to succeed, the level of investment in educational opportunities for privileged students has exploded. So much so that Markovits believes the disparities in investment are establishing the kind of dynastic structure of opportunity that characterizes an aristocratic system.

Even for students that “win” America’s meritocratic competition, Markovits notes that their opportunities to flourish in life are diminishing. He points to the never-ending need to compete for opportunity and to work endlessly both during their academic careers and throughout their work careers to maintain their status – a phenomenon Markovits calls the meritocracy trap.

Markovits argues that elite educational opportunities should be made available to a greater number of students by enacting policies that require elite K-12 schools to increase the number of students they admit. He acknowledges that his proposal is politically contentious; however, he argues that it may find considerable support because America’s broken meritocratic system not only harms less privileged students, it offers even the “winners” little opportunity to meaningfully flourish in life.

A new NEPC Education Interview of the Month, hosted by NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña, will be released each month from September through May.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In February, Chris will be speaking with Jennifer Jellison Holme, an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning at UT Austin, and Kara Finnigan, director of the educational policy program at the University of Rochester, about their new book, Striving in Common: A Regional Equity Framework for Urban Schools.

Stay tuned in to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2020 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

January 15, 2020

Restorative Justice In Education Is Working, But Smart Implementation Is Crucial

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

Restorative justice practices are proactive and responsive in nurturing healthy relationships, repairing harm, transforming conflict, and promoting justice and equity.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Publication Announcement

Restorative Justice in Education is Working, but Smart Implementation

is Crucial

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Restorative justice practices are proactive and responsive in nurturing healthy relationships, repairing harm, transforming conflict, and promoting justice and equity.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Anne Gregory:

(848) 445-3984

annegreg@gsapp.rutgers.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (January 14, 2020) – Schools are implementing Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) initiatives across the United States, often to reduce the use of out-of-school suspension, which is known to increase the risk for dropout and arrest. Many RJE initiatives also aim to strengthen social and emotional competencies, reduce gender and racial disparities in discipline, and increase access to equitable and supportive environments for students from marginalized groups. Yet whether these benefits emerge depends on whether the reforms are well implemented.

NEPC released a policy brief today, The Starts and Stumbles of Restorative Justice in Education: Where Do We Go from Here?, authored by Professors Anne Gregory of Rutgers University and Katherine R. Evans of Eastern Mennonite University. The brief summarizes the research on restorative initiatives, with a focus on implementation and outcomes in U.S. schools.

Gregory and Evans view RJE as a comprehensive, whole school approach to shifting school culture in ways that prioritize relational pedagogies, justice and equity, resilience-fostering, and well-being. Each of these elements is important; schools cannot water down the reforms, implementing them in a half-hearted way, and realistically hope to see strong results.

Guided by a set of restorative values and principles (such as dignity, respect, accountability, and fairness), RJE practices are proactive and are responsive in nurturing healthy relationships, repairing harm, transforming conflict, and promoting justice and equity. Educators in schools and classrooms with well-implemented RJE work to ensure that the “vulnerable are cared for, the marginalized are included, the dignity and humanity of each person in the educational setting matters, and everyone’s needs are heard and met.”

The authors present the accumulating evidence that restorative approaches can reduce the use of exclusionary discipline. They describe promising evidence that such approaches can narrow racial disparities in discipline. They also consider some mixed findings related to improving school climate and student development in light of possibly faulty models and mis-implementation of RJE. Finally, they offer recommendations for comprehensive RJE models and strategic implementation plans to drive more consistently positive outcomes.

Find The Starts and Stumbles of Restorative Justice in Education: Where Do We Go from Here?, by Anne Gregory and Katherine R. Evans, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/restorative-justice

This policy brief is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2020 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

December 20, 2019

NEPC’s December Education Interview Of The Month Features A Discussion About Competitive School Choice In Chicago

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Publication Announcement

NEPC’s December Education Interview of the Month Features a Discussion about Competitive School Choice in Chicago

KEY TAKEAWAY:

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Christopher Saldaña:

(303) 492-2566

christopher.saldana@colorado.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (December 19, 2019) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña speaks with Dr. Kate Phillippo, Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago. In her book, A Contest without Winners: How Students Experience Competitive School Choice, Phillippo examines the impact of competitive school choice policies on the Chicago Public Schools.

Saldana and Phillippo discuss how choice policies in Chicago Public Schools have been shaped by market-based theories of educational equity. She explains that choice advocates describe school choice as an educational reform that affords freedom to parents by giving them the choice to select schools they want their children to attend. Phillippo argues, however, that “competitive school choice” in Chicago institutionalizes inequities by prioritizing factors that can be influenced by economic, cultural, and human capital, such as standardized test scores, in the admission process for highly selective/competitive public high schools. In addition, she finds that because the ability to enroll in these schools is described as being governed by an ostensibly objective process, parents and students are left to accept the outcomes as personal failures rather than outcomes that derive from a school choice system that promotes and widens inequity.

In light of these findings, Phillippo has recommendations for parents and students as well as policymakers. She advises students and parents to recognize that these choice policies are unlikely to go away. Therefore, students and parents should inform themselves early on about the process of enrolling in their preferred schools. In addition, Phillippo recommends that policymakers look closely at the ways in which competitive school choice policies crystallize rather than overcome the educational inequality.

A new NEPC Education Interview of the Month, hosted by NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña, will be released each month from September through May.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In January, Chris will be speaking with Daniel Markovits, the Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School. In his new book, The Meritocracy Trap, Markovits, argues that the belief that the U.S. is a meritocracy that decides society’s winners and losers based on effort and ability is a myth.

Stay tuned in to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2019 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

December 18, 2019

The Dark Side Of Parent Fundraising

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

The Dark Side of Parent Fundraising

Tuesday, January 17, 2019

Newsletter

The Dark Side of Parent Fundraising

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Choir trips to Africa. A yearbook, a school newspaper, a series of pricey building renovations, and multiple Advanced Placement offerings. A grant of up to $1,000 per teacher per year for classroom instructional supplies.

All of the above and more were made possible by parent donations to a Denver public high school where NEPC graduate assistant researcher (and CU Boulder doctoral student) Anna Noble once taught.

As Noble wrote in a recent piece for the non-profit journalistic website Chalkbeat, she has long felt gratitude for the parent gifts that helped make her school a great place to teach and to learn. Yet as her professional role changed and she started visiting schools that served families that could not afford to make donations, she was shaken by the inequities. She saw schools without theater programs, and teachers who spent a large portion of their paychecks on classroom supplies. Even worse, she saw sinks with mold, drinking water with lead, and walls harboring asbestos.

“[A]s wealthy parents are publicly praised for bridging the gap for their own kids, we must always ask, ‘Who will be responsible for the other kids?’” Noble wrote. She urged readers to keep in mind the “kids whose parents love them just as much, and want for their kid the same opportunities that others are given?”

It is difficult to say precisely how much money parents and others raise annually for K-12 public schools. Although the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collect information on private donations, the data are incomplete for the school districts attended by one in three U.S. students, an Education Week analysis found. NCES has only just started collecting finance data for individual schools—where many donations occur—rather than school districts.

However, other less comprehensive information sources suggest that, predictably, wealthier communities are able to raise more money for schools than poor ones. And this is just the tip of the funding-inequity iceberg. As Temple University Associate professor Maia Cucchiara writes in an NEPC review of one of those sources (a think tank analysis of fundraising by 50 Parent-Teacher Organizations): “[It] is important to note that most funding inequalities arise at the state level; funds raised by parents represent only a minute portion of overall school spending.” The amount of money donated by parents is equivalent to less than two percent of total public school spending, Cucchiara writes.

Yet although donations are dwarfed by overall public expenditures, these donations can make a real difference, especially when combined with the volunteer time and political clout that more affluent families are better able to contribute to their schools. And “little” resources can add up to big results. A robust theater program or robotics team can engage students, encouraging potential dropouts to stay in school. Educators feel appreciated when they are provided with refreshments during evening parent-teacher conferences—and feelings of appreciation can reduce turnover. And then there are the roles that parents play when taxpayers don’t provide basics like safe buildings, potable drinking water, and sufficient support for students with special needs.

So what can be done?

Noble has been active in her local union, and she suggests that teachers’ unions have a role to play. These unions, she writes, can press for transparency around parent fundraising and can advocate for systems that share the money raised at affluent schools with schools that serve a less privileged student body. According to Teaching Tolerance, some districts have indeed banned donations to individual schools, instead distributing the funds equitably throughout the district.

But what about districts where none of the schools serve affluent families? Or the larger problem of schools with low-income populations that need considerably more resources yet often receive less?

Noble expresses hope that parent donors like those helping her former school can be persuaded to push for legislation to adequately and equitably fund all schools. After all, she writes, these wealthy parents have long shown that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

This newsletter is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2019 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

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