Progressivism as a Cause of Racial Inequity in Schools

Source: “The Secret Shame”

by James A. Bacon

Chris Stewart has long dedicated himself to community activism and racial equity in public schools. He has served on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education and, as a nonprofit CEO, he has championed grassroots movements to spur innovation in family and education policy. Somewhere along the line, it dawned upon him that something about “progressive” educational policies weren’t working.

Chris Stewart

His home state of Minnesota considers itself a “progressive exemplar,” he writes in the introduction to a study released this month, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray their Commitment to Educational Opportunity for All.” “[But] educational outcomes for students of color and American Indians are among the worst in the nation.”

Progressives need to come to grips with a hard reality, Stewart says: The disparity in educational outcomes between whites on the one hand and African-Americans and Hispanics on the other is far greater in progressive cities than in conservative cities. Of particular interest to readers of Bacon’s Rebellion, the study finds that the city with the smallest disparity — a disparity so small it barely registers — is Virginia Beach. The city with the second biggest disparity is not far away — Washington, D.C.

“The Secret Shame,” published by Stewart’s brightbeam organization, relied upon work done by two political scientists who pooled data from seven large public opinion surveys to rank the nation’s biggest cities in terms of conservatism. The study then compared the educational outcomes of the seven most conservative and the seven most progressive cities.

“When we analyzed the achievement gaps between black and white students and the gaps between Latino and white students we found larger gaps than readers might expect from cities where progressive residents presumably hold the most political, administrative an cultural power,” says the report. “Our most progressive cities have made very little progress towards the fundamental responsibility of helping every student reach their highest potential.”

At one extreme is San Francisco, where Democrats and progressives have long prided themselves on efforts to uplift the underprivileged. Educators are dedicated to openness, tolerance, diversity and equal opportunity. Yet the black-white cap is horrifying. Seventy percent of white students score proficient in math compared to only 12% of blacks — a chasm of 58%. For math, the gap in Washington, D.C., is even worse — 62 percentage points.

By contrast, the conservative cities of Virginia Beach, Anaheim, and Fort Worth “have effectively closed the gap in at least one of the academic categories we looked at, literally achieving a gap of zero or one,” the study reports. “The politically conservative Oklahoma City has even turned the tables on our typical thinking about race-based gaps. There, students of color outperform white students on high school graduation rates.”

The study systematically ruled out other explanations for the differences between progressive and conservative cities — per-pupil spending, income inequality, poverty rates, percentages of white and black students, and other factors. “Of all the factors we looked at progressivism is the greatest predictor.” Remarkably, despite the obsessive attention that progressives give to closing the gap for lower-income students, the racial gap in both San Francisco and Washington, D.C. is worse for low-income students than for middle- to upper-income students.

It’s almost as if progressivism itself was causing the problem.

According to the study data, Virginia Beach is the third most conservative city with a population more than 250,000 in the country. Washington, D.C., is the second most progressive.

Here are the math/reading proficiency rates in Washington public schools:
Black – 12% / 20%
Latino — 31% / 32%
White — 70% / 83%

Here are the math/reading proficiency rates for Virginia Beach public schools:
Black — 62%  / 65%
Latino — 67% / 68%
White — 65% / 66%

Remarkably, Latino (Hispanic) students out-perform white students in Virginia Beach. That finding is so remarkable that the authors deem Virginia Beach to be an outlier, even among conservative cities, and suggest that the large presence of the military might be responsible. “With many white, black and Latino children hailing from a shared background of having military parents, it could be that Virginia Beach is better situated to eliminate achievement and graduation gaps by race than other conservatives cities.”

Another possibility, not considered in the report, is that while Virginia Beach is legally classified as a city, human settlement patterns more closely resemble a suburban community. Whatever the case, Virginia Beach defies all stereotypes of progressive thinking.

Where does progressivism go wrong? The authors of the study do not try to explain how progressivism fails its minority students. or what conservative jurisdictions are doing right Rather, they urge progressive leaders to acknowledge the sad reality, spread the word, mobilize their communities, and develop plans to narrow the performance gaps. “Stirring words have done little to fix the stark disparities that exist between white students and their black and Latino peers,” the report says. “None of us, regardless of our political identities and affiliations, should be satisfied with impassioned rhetoric and token initiatives alone.”

Permit me to offer a few suggestions on where progresssivism runs off the rails.

  • Agency. By blaming racism and discrimination for the woes afflicting minority communities, progressives deprive minority students of agency — the sense that they control their own destinies and that their efforts will make a difference. If minority students see themselves as victims of systemic racism, why bother working hard and “acting white”?
  • Discipline. Progressives have implemented “social justice” approaches to school and classroom discipline on the grounds that suspensions and other punishments disproportionately affect minorities. The resulting breakdown in classroom discipline has the perverse effect of disproportionately harming the minority students whose classes are being disrupted.
  • Lower standards. As an offshoot of the “self esteem” movement, progressive educators don’t want to damage the self-esteem of minority students. Accordingly, they have lower expectations and set lower standards for minorities to offset the advantages that white students have from “white privilege.”

These phenomena are highly corrosive. Progressivism, one is tempted to say, is a social disease. Insofar as Governor Ralph Northam succeeds in embedding progressive values and principles in Virginia schools, as he is working so assiduously to do, we can predict that the black-white achievement gap will be worst in school districts where those values and principles take deepest root.

(Hat tip: John Butcher)

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35 responses to “Progressivism as a Cause of Racial Inequity in Schools

  1. legitimate report:
    Brightbeam funding: We’re grateful to our funders, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation, Emerson Collective, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, for helping support the work of dozens of advocates, activists and contributors all across the country.

    But I would not characterize it as “progressive” and “Conservative” and black/hispanic as much as I would as “low income” and in the same cities where there are achievement gaps, there are also schools that excel.

    Take a county like Henrico. Same School board – but wide variation in academic performance between it’s schools.

    take a look at the individual elementary schools in Henrico and the academic gaps between white and black – and try to attribute these variations to whether Henrico is a “progressive” county or a “Conservative” county:

    3rd grade SOL Reading pass rate:

    School Name Race Pass Rate

    Arthur Ashe Jr. Elementary Black 60.32
    Arthur Ashe Jr. Elementary White >50
    Cashell Donahoe Elementary Black 46.81
    Cashell Donahoe Elementary White 61.54
    Chamberlayne Elementary Black 50
    Chamberlayne Elementary White >50
    Charles M. Johnson Elementary Black 39.13
    Charles M. Johnson Elementary White >50
    Colonial Trail Elementary Black 84.62
    Colonial Trail Elementary White 78.79
    Crestview Elementary Black >50
    Crestview Elementary White 83.33
    David A. Kaechele Elementary Black >50
    David A. Kaechele Elementary White 90.24
    Dumbarton Elementary Black 52.17
    Dumbarton Elementary White <50
    Echo Lake Elementary Black <50
    Echo Lake Elementary White 77.36
    Elizabeth Holladay Elementary Black 50
    Gayton Elementary Black >50
    Gayton Elementary White 86.96
    George F. Baker Elementary Black 69.39
    Glen Allen Elementary Black 53.85
    Glen Allen Elementary White 82.28
    Glen Lea Elementary Black 32.84
    Glen Lea Elementary White >50
    Greenwood Elementary Black 67.86
    Greenwood Elementary White 85.71
    Harold Macon Ratcliffe Elementary Black 47.89
    Harvie Elementary Black 65.43
    Harvie Elementary White >50
    Henry D. Ward Elementary Black 57.14
    Henry D. Ward Elementary White <50
    Highland Springs Elementary Black 50
    Highland Springs Elementary White 50
    Laburnum Elementary Black 37.93
    Lakeside Elementary Black 45.45
    Lakeside Elementary White 57.69
    Longdale Elementary Black 45.24
    Longdale Elementary White <50
    Maude Trevvett Elementary Black 62.96
    Maude Trevvett Elementary White 90.91
    Maybeury Elementary Black 50
    Nuckols Farm Elementary Black >50
    Nuckols Farm Elementary White 90
    Pemberton Elementary Black >50
    Pemberton Elementary White 100
    Pinchbeck Elementary Black 53.85
    Pinchbeck Elementary White 79.37
    R.C. Longan Elementary Black 80
    R.C. Longan Elementary White 73.53
    Ridge Elementary Black 50
    Rivers Edge Elementary White 93.48
    Ruby F. Carver Elementary Black 82.35
    Ruby F. Carver Elementary White 75
    Sandston Elementary Black >50
    Sandston Elementary White >50
    Seven Pines Elementary Black 60.71
    Seven Pines Elementary White 78.79
    Shady Grove Elementary Black >50
    Shady Grove Elementary White 95.24
    Short Pump Elementary Black >50
    Short Pump Elementary White 88
    Skipwith Elementary Black 60.87
    Skipwith Elementary White 77.27
    Springfield Park Elementary Black 80
    Springfield Park Elementary White 85.71
    Three Chopt Elementary Black >50
    Three Chopt Elementary White 85.71
    Tuckahoe Elementary White 91.11
    Twin Hickory Elementary Black 92.31
    Twin Hickory Elementary White 89.29
    Varina Elementary Black 59.49
    Varina Elementary White 66.67

    large differences at SOME schools while other schools in the same district look pretty good.

    Can you attribute this to “progressive” or “conservative”?

  2. The 1000 word comments tend to discourage anybody else from jumping in….perhaps your goal, Larry. Plus it is hard with that format to see the delta. Looks to me like there are not huge gaps in some of those Henrico schools. I think the bottom line is: preach victimhood, resentment and disparity, and you get very different results than when you highlight opportunity and expect accomplishment. GIGO.

    Not a teacher myself but have lived with or known many. Fads and movements sweep through the profession, infect the leadership, but on the ground it has always been about the goals set by the parents and the teachers. Yes, in high poverty households that first element can be a challenge.

    • sorry about the length.

      what it shows is that SOME schools have large gaps and some small gaps and I’m asking how you can have that in one district if you want to try to characterize it as “progressive” or “conservative”?

      If you look at a LOT of school districts, you’ll find a similar diversity of schools, some with big gaps and some with small gaps.

      Jim keeps doing perspectives from 10,000 ft trying to suggest some progressive or conservative mindset for things like :

      Agency. By blaming racism and discrimination for the woes afflicting minority communities, progressives deprive minority students of agency

      Discipline. Progressives have implemented “social justice” approaches to school

      Lower standards.

      How can you say this about a school district like Henrico? Does the whole school system – all of its schools have this “agency” , “social justice” problem?

      He seems to prefer making the black white gap an issue of progressives and conservative values – that somehow get embedded in the public school system.

      If that were true – wouldn’t it also be true that all schools in a district would have the same gaps and problems that are rooted in “agency” or “social justice” or “standards”? You’d see those things reflected across the school district, right?

  3. Like you Jim, I think applying a racial rational to everything is not always helpful. But neither is defining everything by progressive vs. conservative. I would like to see explanations that come from lots of places, including from the raw data itself. And … I thought the DC-Virginia Beach comparison was apples and oranges. Everyone knows DC acknowledged, maybe 10 years ago, that the school system was in deep trouble. It is also true that the demographic are very different than Virginia Beach. DC student population in 2018 was 71% black, 15% hispanic and 10% white, while in Virginia Beach the numbers are 23% black, 12% hispanic and 48% white.

    So, I looked up some stats on Virginia school demographics and outcomes, and the same stats on California schools. I found other reasons that educators and budget wonks should consider if they want to raise success rates in our schools … and they are homelessness and language.

    Virginia students are 48% Caucasian, 23% African American, 12% Latino and 6% Asian.
    Virginia graduation rates … overall 91.5% graduate. 89+% of black students graduate, 95% of whites and 80% of Hispanic students. The rate for Asian students is the highest at 97+%.

    What caught my eye is that there are stats for English learners at 70% and kids that have been homeless at anytime. They rank the lowest at 67%. It is also true that those 2 categories rank the highest, in the 20+%, for both dropout rate and long-term absences.

    So how about that crazy leftist CA? The student demographic are 23% White, 5% black, 55% Hispanic and 9% Asian.
    Overall 83% graduate. The Asian graduation rate is the highest at 93%. 87% white, 80% Hispanic and 73% black students graduate. Among English learners and homeless kids graduation rates are 67 and 70% respectively, but CA added another category that is the worst rate … only 50% of kids from foster homes graduate. Awful!

    So, call ‘progressivism a ‘social disease’ if you must, but a little more progressivism among the ‘funders’ might find a better way to deal with kids disrupted by homelessness or stuck in a foster care system that evidently needs fixing. A progressive approach would put extra help into kids with language issues, not just assume discipline would ‘put those kids straight’.

  4. Points to Steve Haner. One question I have is why do the Dems stop vouchers? https://www.theroot.com/black-people-support-vouchers-black-leaders-don-t-who-1795711457. https://www.cato.org/blog/african-americans-speak-themselves-most-want-school-choice. Regular folks want it.
    I also do not see how kids get an education when they are allowed to run the classroom and get credit for work they don’t do or have lowered expectations to the point that they do nothing. Then when they try to go up and get a job after school or get a job, they’ve been unprepared for 18 years of their life.

    • Vouchers are fine as long as those schools accept the same demographics that public schools do and have the same performance standards and provide testing results transparently.

      We don’t use public school data – transparently provided – to justify vouchers to schools that do not also transparently provide their results.

      And my bet is that black folks would also want that as part of any voucher system.

    • With my luck, Larry, you’ll be my guard when the put me in the reeducation camp….What a crock….The Democratic party is under the thumb of the unions, in particular the teacher’s union, and they hate the vouchers that help kids escape failed schools. And this year, probably, the VEA will indeed make the transition to the full fledged union and can start doing some REAL damage in VA. This bill could be a flashpoint, too:

      http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?201+sum+HB521

      • Steve – I’m telling you MY point of view on vouchers. I am not alone on it. There is no such thing as the monolithic “left” on this.

        Public Schools have not done well with low income kids – of all colors – and part of it is about choices made by school divisions when it comes to resources for schools with those populations of kids.

        That’s NOT teacher unions by the way – that’s administration.

        At any rate, I’m not about to go from the frying pan into the fire for vouchers for schools that do not take all demographics and do not meet the same academic and transparency standards as public schools.

        To advocate for that – as a “solution” to the public schools is less than honest in my view. We DO NOT bail on the principles of public education because public education has failed on some things. That’s just advocacy for de-facto abandonment of these kids.

  5. Virginia beach is a fairly new city created by superhighways to get white people out of portsmouth and norfolk. Agree that it’s apples and oranges with a place like dc. Also, why do you keep dumping on “progressives,” a term that has not been around long?

    • Virginia Beach has been a city longer than Washington D.C. has had home rule.

      I think you might be right about the comparison of the two being “apples and oranges”, though.

      DC spends about $29,000 per pupil per school year.
      VB spends less than half that amount.

      Also, the political term “progressive” has been around since the 1890s. That’s a reasonably long time in politics.

      • Wayne, thank you for injecting a degree of intelligence and knowledge into this highly uninformed conversation. For more of it, please lets all of us for a change read books by people who know what they are talking about. For example:

        “These gross failures of our American education system continue to this day, thanks to irrevocably flawed modern educational theory. What is Direct Education? For a short primer on that subject, see this short primer:

        ALSO read the works of E. D. Hirsch, Jr., namely

        1/ Cultural Literacy,
        2/ The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them,
        3/ The Knowledge Deficit,
        4/The Making of Americans,
        6/Why Knowledge Matters.

        Dr. Hirsch is a professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia.

  6. In my 23 years working in the field of education, I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of folks in a lot of school divisions across the state, both in higher and lower performing schools. Higher performing schools tend to have less discrepancy in subgroup results, and lower performing schools tend to have more discrepancy. The bottom line that impacts this seems to be leadership, priorities, and expectations. In one of the more “woke” districts in which I worked, one of the big priorities was to help more students of color gain entrance into higher education. The problem with this was that no one seemed to be alarmed that their students of color performed abysmally on state reading assessments. In places such as this, it seems that folks believe that systemic racism was the barrier to a college education, not the prerequisite skills that a student needs to be successful in post-secondary education.

    It seems that teachers and administrators who have a more progressive bend tend to have lower expectations. When students are given inflated grades (either because we don’t believe that they can achieve on grade level, or to make sure that we don’t harm their self esteem), they tend to evidence lower scores on state assessments. In other words, in these classrooms and schools, we tend to see a lot of students who “earned” A’s and B’s for their final grades to fail their state assessments. In a school down the road with very similar demographics, where the staff of the school bases their expectations of student performance on state standards, the pass rates are much higher. In these schools, students who earn A’s tend to score pass advanced, and most kids who earn even D’s pass their tests.

    In my mind, progressives tend to think more in terms of simple solutions to complex problems that when put into action tend to have serious, negative consequences. For example, Johnson’s war on poverty had some very good intentions, but it helped to destroy the black family unit more so that whites. Research shows that being reared in a single parent home is one of similarities among many individuals that commit crime. On the other hand, conservatives, given their way all the time, would not lead us down the path to a more rosy future in many instances. We need a balance from both perspectives to keep us out of the Gulag as well as to keep our corporate overlords in check.

    All that being said, I’m not entirely sure that addressing this problem (or any other for that matter) from a political viewpoint (progressives versus conservatives) leads us to a better place. I truly believe that most of us are hard wired to bend either towards progressivism or conservatism, and when we work to show that one side is at fault, we effectively turn off half of the population from the discussion. If we can’t effectively engage folks from both ends of the political spectrum, the only thing we’re doing is earning points from folks on our side. Whether it’s education, public safety, or how to best use our public funds, we need to first look for desired outcomes we can all agree upon, and then work our way forward from there. We need to ratchet down the tribalism of left versus right, and start behaving in a manner that invites cooperation from the other side.

    • re: ” It seems that teachers and administrators who have a more progressive bend tend to have lower expectations. When students are given inflated grades (either because we don’t believe that they can achieve on grade level, or to make sure that we don’t harm their self esteem), they tend to evidence lower scores on state assessments. In other words, in these classrooms and schools, we tend to see a lot of students who “earned” A’s and B’s for their final grades to fail their state assessments. ”

      How does that viewpoint “work” in a school district with dozens of schools and the low income ones underperform the upscale neighborhood schools?

      Do you attribute the fact that SOME school in that district that underperform is due to “liberal” thinking?

      Do teachers teach for low expectations if the administration says otherwise?

      I don’t buy this narrative about “left” in large school districts with dozens of schools of varying academic results. It’s bogus.

  7. Steve, Puleez … tell us where your judgments come from … that would be a good way to “ratchet down the tribalism”.

    From the VEA … On January 28, 2019, more than 4,000 teachers, support professionals, and community supporters rallied in Richmond to demand higher pay and an end to school funding cuts.
    Since then, the General Assembly passed a 5-percent raise and increased school funding, but we have barely begun to close the budget gap created during the Great Recession. (when the state formula was changed) And other states are catching up and passing Virginia.

    This year their agenda is backed by comparative statistics … the “real damage” they hope to do is to raise the state’s rank in comparative level of funding for education.
    “Virginia Ranks …
    40th in state spending per pupil
    32nd in teacher pay
    47th among all state in teacher pay measured against similar
    professions.
    Cost of living in VA certainly can’t be an excuse for whole state averages. How about fixing the formula?

  8. I gave Henrico as an example. I could have just as easily given Fairfax or Chesterfield or Tidewater.

    The idea that “left leaning” teachers have “low expectations” is just bunk.

    Most teachers – they teach to the policy and rules – the SOLs and tell me pray God what the strategy is for “low expectations” when the SOL scores come out and show the disparity?

    How dumb can any of us be to say that the low SOL scores “prove” low expectations by “liberal” teachers?

    School leadership, administration decides what teachers do or not.

    If you want to say that in multi-school districts with racial academic gaps are run by “liberals with low expectations”, how do you explain that OTHER schools in the SAME district – excel when such schools are located in upscale neighborhoods?

    This is about allocation of resources. The Dept of Education has documented this. What happens is that when a school district gets extra funds for at-risk schools, other funding is supplanted and the net result is that those schools have no more resources than other schools and in many cases, the least experienced teachers are assigned because veteran teachers will not agree to teach at those low-income schools for fear they were endanger their career when SOL results are bad.

    That’s NOT a “teacher union” problem folks.

    If you really want to deal with this issue – you have to get rid of your prejudices and seek the truth about the issue.

    It’s not about teacher unions. It’s about how we choose to fund and teach at-risk kids – way up the food chain.

  9. The lowest funded region in Virginia, Region VII (19 divisions in far southwest) has the highest SOL performance and the lowest disparity among subgroups. Expectations and leadership!

    • AND a really terrific program devised by them that brought elementary teachers together to set a program for kids who arrive in school behind and others who lag in develeping their basic skills.

      Jim wrote about it in an earlier post. Other districts have copied it. It state Dept of Ed should be putting it in place everywhere … It is local teacher design!

      • I have no allegiance to teacher unions but what they do accomplish is to not let a teacher become a scapegoat for a principal or administrator who fails to do their job and then looks to put blame on whoever they can.

        When I suggested looking at Henrico – as opposed to SW Virgina – I was asking how one of the top school districts in Virginia have BOTH high scoring schools and low scoring schools if Henrico has one top level policy for educating those children?

        Are we going to say those smaller school districts – leadership are superior to the leadership in Henrico?

        Can you give credit to Henrico leadership for their GOOD schools but blame them for their bad ones also? Does such a circumstance indicate “liberal” leadership or “conservative” leadership?

        There is more to this than simplistic thinking or partisan loyalties and any of us who say we really care – need to really want to know the truths.

    • From the TOP – I AGREE! This is not a teacher union problem but a leadership issue at the school district level.

      This works best in smaller school districts where the schools draw from all over the county -and not schools in neighborhoods.

  10. Larry, I now see and agree with your additional comment …
    Yes, Henrico leadership must take responsibility for ALL scores and I am suggesting … allocate their funds where they think they are needed, as well as change practices, and or personnel, where particular schools are not working. Question; where is the state B of ED?

    Unions can strengthen the voice of teachers … I think mainly for the good at this particular point. They are not the only answer, I agree. I do see a different approach to funding and accountability from conservatives and progressives, even though most of us want the same thing essentially … kids who are able to, and do, learn.

    As an old School Board official I have leveled criticisms about what I see, from a distance, as problems in Virginia. One … “What the heck is the General Assembly doing defining specifics of local School Board budgetary decisions?” There is a better way, especially for a GA that is part-time . Do an equalization formula that gives all districts the ability to pay for their schools regardless of their local real estate, or sales tax valuations.

    So, take the GA out of local school board decisions … like how long they must run a bus until they get financial help to replace it. That means the state
    B of Ed needs to do the job of evaluating and promoting good practices in all the schools. I tried unsuccessfully to find Jim’s Post that talked of the program invented out in SW that appears to be so successful … Maybe Jim can point us there again? Shouldn’t that success have support to spread the ideas that are working to other schools?

    Finally, I also questioned the approach to discipline of calling the police and creating juvenile records for really minor stuff that should be handled at the school. That is not to say there should be no enforced rules, but my Mother-in-law, who had a masters in history and taught in a high-school, used to say … have a few really important rules and make sure they are well enforced.

    Does the police intervention come from a ‘conservative’ approach? I don’t know, but again … don’t we want the same thing? Don’t we want to know what actually works and does that need to be different in different districts? Isn’t that the responsibility of the local and the state BofED?

  11. Seems that the obvious follow-up to this study (The Secret Shame) is to check these same 7 conservative and 7 progressive communities for their education practices. Are the conservative communities following standard traditional, direct instruction, teacher-centered, etc. practices, methods, materials and curriculum? Are the progressive communities following standard constructivist, experiential, child-centered, etc. practices, methods, materials and curriculum? Furthermore, how is professional development done?

    • Very good points. It’s one thing to recognize the difference in outcomes. It’s another thing to determine what causes the difference. I offered some possible explanations, but there are undoubtedly others — including those you mention.

  12. The “liberals” versus “conservatives” schools is just more grade A hogwash.

    First of all, how exactly are you defining the terms “liberal” and “conservative” with respect to school districts?

    Second, how do you explain that schools within a given district have varying black/white gaps if at the top – you define the district leadership as “liberal” or “conservative”.

    When it is said: ” Are the conservative communities following standard traditional, direct instruction, teacher-centered, etc. practices, methods, materials and curriculum? Are the progressive communities following standard constructivist, experiential, child-centered, etc. practices, methods, materials and curriculum? Furthermore, how is professional development done?”

    what does this mean? Whose standard is this? And how is each of these criteria defined ?

    ” standard traditional, direct instruction” versus ” standard constructivist, experiential, child-centered, etc. practices, methods, materials and curriculum? ”

    who defines these and what criteria determines classification?

    the “who” is what organization, what groups. Are they non-partisan, middle of the road groups or are they groups with particular agendas?

    Would professional teaching groups agree with these characterizations?

    Who decides what practices are “liberal” or “conservative”?

    Finally, would this kind of labeling and characterization also apply to private schools or is it assumed that all private schools are one “type”?

    Let’s assume this blather actually has some merit – how would you reform schools? Based on what? From the top VDOE?

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  14. Interesting report; my interest is piqued. I think it’s important to note that the study does not suggest causation, only correlation. I would be interested to see this repeated on a broader scale with stratified sampling and more controls.

    Like all studies, this study has limitations. Some are disclosed, others are not. It selects cases from the extremes of the sampling frame, and analyzes just 24 cities. Due to a lack of complete data, it does not apply group-level controls to the full model. I would prefer more disclosure surrounding controls. A claim that controls “do not erase” observed correlations is a bit vague for my taste. Where controls insignificant, or were they downplayed for purposes of building a case? Hard to know.

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  16. These “studies” that show correlation are implying causation. Read the narratives.

    And the problem is they don’t even really define the metrics they are using.

    It’s mostly hand waving masquerading at something scholarly.

    GOOD studies do disclose all pieces and parts and invite others to try to replicate the results.

    BAD studies which are the norm for many so-called “think tanks” and in this case – one guy with his own theories.. they just splat them out and then blogs like this spread them…

    they’re not _real_ studies using objective standards. They are more along the lines of what someone thinks – and they set out to weave something together that supports their premise.

    Folks who suffer from confirmation bias just eat them up.

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  18. Education is such a massive institution. It will take 10 to 20 years for the current approach to fully run it’s course. Over that span a mountain of data will support why it doesn’t work. And then eventually the voters, politicians, and bean counters chart a new course. In the meantime what kind of outcomes can we expect from public education? I am not optimistic.

  19. I just totally disagree John. Public education “works” but it’s got issues and the only alternative that I hear about is de-facto private schools that will not take the very demographic that Public schools have to take and those de-facto private will not be transparent as to academic results on a demographic basis like public schools are.

    How can you advocate taking down public schools without advocating for a real alternative?

    This is the problem with critics… they tear down and they haven’t a clue what to replace it with other than simplistic concepts.

    I’m all for public funding of private schools as long as they take the demographics and report academic results on a per demographic basis.

    I’m open to other ideas but I’m not open to the destruction of public schools and no replacement that we can see and agree to.

    we cannot operate this way.

    If we took this same approach with VDOT and roads, we’d fire VDOT and replace them with what?

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