Education is and always has been profoundly shaped by demographics and economics. Ever since James Coleman's celebrated 1966 study showed that student achievement is strongly affected by nonschool factors, Americans have understood the manifold tribulations facing anyone bent on improving student achievement among our poorest children.
In Dayton, Fordham's hometown, there is no doubt that education reform efforts are entangled with brutal Rust Belt economics, poverty, job loss, fractured families, and the constant churning of children between schools. Recent news out of Dayton has not been good for children and families here.
First, the community has been on edge over the recent death of a young African-American male who died while in police custody. In speaking with community leaders who work closely with Dayton's families and neighborhoods it is clear that they have been working very hard to keep the tensions bubbling under the surface from blowing up in ways akin to what's been happening in London. There is much anger and misunderstanding in Dayton, and it is stoked by high unemployment, extreme poverty, and despair. A drive around town or a walk in some of the city's more beaten down neighborhoods make this all too clear.
Recent statistics reaffirm how needy the community is. The Columbus Dispatch reported this morning that 28 percent of Dayton families with children say they did not have enough money to buy food in the past year. The Dayton Business Journal reported yesterday that the ???Dayton-area ranked as the...