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.

Every four years, it seems, enterprising campaign staff put out talking points about how their candidate wants to "help" failing schools improve, not just batter them for their poor performance. And this year's rhetoric is no different. But are these campaign aides aware that the federal government already supports a fairly elaborate system meant to "build the capacity" of state departments of education, so they can help to improve failing schools and districts?

I'll admit that I was barely aware of this myself until I was invited to serve on the "technical working group" for a national evaluation of the Department of Education's "Comprehensive Centers ." I am not at liberty to disclose the early results of said study (I'm sorry, Good Morning America , you'll just have to wait), but the campaigns should at least become familiar with the Centers' work. In a nutshell, there are 16 regional centers (each serving a handful of states) and five "content" centers (one each for high school reform , innovation & improvement , instruction , testing & accountability , and teacher quality ). And a big focus for almost...

Liam Julian

Gary Babad creates satirical news about New York City's public schools.

It was shortly after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took over the school system in 2002 that Mr. Babad started to speak up, because, he said, things struck him as paternalistic and overly controlling. He recalled a PTA meeting at which someone said a particular bylaw needed to be changed to comply with a request from administrators downtown.

After a heated debate broke out, one of Mr. Babad's daughters, who was about 10, came by to ask what the commotion was about.

???I explained to her that they were telling us our votes don't count and that's what some countries of the world do all the time,??? Mr. Babad remembered. ???She said right away, ???Well, Dad, that's not fair.' ???

I've come to admire the anonymous edu-blogger Eduwonkette, what with her skillful use of Photoshop, fearless questioning of the high and mighty, and, yes, lavish attention and fun she heaps on us here at Fordham.* But I've got to call her out on this morning's post about New York City's achievement gap.

My beef isn't about NYC in particular but her analysis of the achievement gap in general. (An analysis that is strikingly similar to Charles Murray's, by the way.) She writes:

Proficiency rates, or the percentage of students passing a test, are often used to measure achievement gaps. For example, if 90% of white students passed a test and 65% of black students did, some observers will say that the achievement gap is "25 points." Proficiency is a misleading and inaccurate way to measure achievement gaps. Primarily, the problem is that we cannot differentiate between students who just made it over the proficiency bar and those who scored well above it. Proficiency rates can increase substantially by moving a small number of kids up a few points---just enough to clear the cut score. But