Former Assistant Secretary of Education (and onetime colleague of mine) Susan Neuman promotes the "broader/bolder" agenda in the pages of the Detroit Free Press today. (HT to Alexander Russo.*) I've already expressed my dismay with said agenda (and Checker and Liam go even further), but let me quibble with a few of her article's specifics. First:

Six years after the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind law, there is frustratingly little evidence that it will close the achievement gap between low-income, minority children and their middle-class peers.

Perhaps not, but there is plenty of evidence that NCLB-style accountability is helping to narrow the gap between low-achieving and high-achieving students, for better or for worse. But let's be honest: none of the social service programs Neuman touts are likely to "close" the achievement gap between poor and middle-class children either. Maybe they can help to "narrow" the gap. That's a big distinction. As I wrote the other day, we're unlikely to entirely erase group differences in achievement, particularly class differences, so...

Liam Julian

Checker has been pushing for this for over 20 years.

Liam Julian

I found on Matt Yglesias's blog a link to this article,??which argues that housing vouchers have not??increased urban crime rates.

They don't seem to have increased urban??educational achievement, either. And that??they haven't??seems to damage the claim that poor kids,??when enrolled??in??schools or classrooms with??lots of middle-class kids, will learn more. It's not about who's in the school--it's about the school itself.

Update: To avoid confusion about this post and the post directly preceding it: I do believe that schools??that enroll??lots of low-income and minority students can do a fine job of educating their pupils. I wonder, though, if??lots of??urban districts, because of the entrenched big-city politics under which they operate, can successfully implement??educational reform unless the demographics of their customers shift. (Washington, D.C., is an outlier.)

I wasn't around in the salad days of American public schooling, but if The Wonder Years or Archie comics are any indication, most high schools used to offer auto shop classes. Not many do these days, unfortunately, which allows things like this to happen.

And Liam has been pushing for more of this.

(That's not some weak attempt at a joke; he really has.)

Liam Julian

It wouldn't surprise me if appreciable, overarching??positive changes in most big-city school districts??occur??only if and when the demographics of??the??big cities in question naturally shift??(emphasis on the word naturally).??Certainly it would be interesting if someone could observe a??metropolitan "tipping point," after reaching which??a city's??schools get much, much better. Perhaps someone already has? Certainly many people claim that individual schools have race and class "tipping points" (i.e., if a school's enrollment is more than 50 percent low income, for example, that school is statistically likely to be??bad and get worse).

Liam Julian

George Leef is no fan of David Brooks's column??in yesterday's New York Times (which we were the first to "cover" so cite us or else). Here's why he doesn't like it:

I am all in favor of widespread prosperity, but am not convinced either that the college versus high school earnings gap is a problem or that a system of universal college education would make the slightest bit of difference.

Liam Julian

Over at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabbarok writes about females and math.

Liam Julian

This one's from the Cato Institute's Neal McCluskey:

Sadly, Carey's blatant disregard for the distinction I drew between public schooling and public education, and even his failure to consider any of my major points or evidence, isn't what ends up taking the sorry cake. The lowest point is his effort to equate opposing government-dominated schooling with supporting propertied-class privilege, disenfranchised women, and all sorts of other inequalities that Carey knows weren't the products of a free education system, but rather legally???read: government???imposed constrictions.