I think this is right (that you can't just throw money at bad schools).bennieloohoo wrote:My experience (warning: small sample size) leads me to think that just throwing money at underperforming schools isn't going to make them much better. I've seen money wasted in all kinds of creative ways in Texas public schools. I'm torn on the voucher thing; I think a market would result in improved education, but at the same time I feel like public education shouldn't be privatized on philosophical grounds. And this is coming from a guy who generally likes privatizing things.
A major reason that SAT scores correlate to family income is that family income correlates to parents' education levels, and parents' education levels correlate to perceptions of the value of education. These aren't perfect correlations, of course -- and I've been teaching enough years that I've come across law students who were the first ones in their family to graduate from college, much less attend law school. (I usually try to snatch those students up as research assistants!)
Mrs. Raccoon and I both have college and law degrees, and on top of that, while we're not Amy Chua extremists, we are both Asian. You can be sure that our sons have already been getting indoctrinated about the importance of doing homework, getting good grades, going to college, etc. (To be sure, I don't mean to suggest that only Asians do these things.) I go over my son's homework before he turns it in and I make him fix any mistakes. I look over his completed in-class assignments and go over any mistakes that his teacher failed to catch. I teach him other math/science things outside of class. Etc.
The problem is, if you don't have parents who (1) care and are heavily invested in their kids' academic performance; and (2) are able to exert themselves in that direction, then it's going to take an exceptional child and/or teacher(s) to make it work.
I used to think -- in my pre-parenting days -- that all you needed to do was to pay the better teachers more money to work in the bad schools. How's that for a market solution? But now I don't believe that would work. Some teachers are good teachers for certain students, but not others. In the end, parents matter immensely.
Note that this POV takes an ethical stance: it's not concerned with leveling the playing field, so much as providing a minimally adequate level of funding for all students. As long as every student gets at least $N/year spent on them (and $N is a good amount), it's okay if some students get $1.5N/year spent on them if that extra amount comes from parents donations' of cash and time.Eigenbasis wrote:If the state tries to equalize funds, and then parents donate their time and money on top of that, like with the foundations you describe, I think that's a good thing. That's money that would not otherwise go in to the school system. Of course parents will pay for ostensibly silly things like "principal for a day" but I bet might be opposed to increased taxes to pay for education if those foundations didn't exist. That's just human nature and you can't fight it.
I can't say that's wrong, and it's more egalitarian than the California/Florida approach. But what happens is that the gap between the affluent and poor still continues to widen.
Of course, it's virtually impossible to fight the urge that parents will have to help their kids out. And at least a good education, unlike a large inheritance, is something that is generally productive for the kids.