The K-12 Education Implosion Question

Glenn Reynolds has a new Broadside, this one about the collapse of K-12 education. But here is the question.  Conservatives often point out, correctly, that while the amount of money spent on education, even controlling for inflation, has skyrocketed over the years (for example, just on the federal level education…

  1. EJHill

    I guess there’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere.

  2. Yeah...ok.

    Victory hell! It is worse than defeat. This line of reasoning could be used to suggest that K-12 can somehow substitute for an intact family.

  3. Mama Toad

    Or does it reflect the dumbing-down of those tests?

  4. EJHill

    I thinc the edjewkation sistem is fine the way it is. It learned me the scils I needed to git a good job as a teacher! My unyon rep says I have a job for lyfe now and it maks me happi.

  5. Augustine
    Mama Toad: Or does it reflect the dumbing-down of those tests? · 17 minutes ago

    The tests have very strong reasons to maintain consistency, so I cannot believe they’ve been dumbed down. 

  6. Augustine
    Yeah…ok.: Victory hell! It is worse than defeat. This line of reasoning could be used to suggest that K-12 can somehow substitute for an intact family. · 34 minutes ago

    I am asking an empirical not normative question.  Let’s try to answer it.  If family breakdown leads to a decline in educational attainment but our best measures suggest a kind of flattness in educational attainment, what accounts for this?  I am presenting a hypothesis, one with which I may not agree, btw.  The hypothesis is this: the vast sums of money spent on education have had the effect of maintaining stasis in educational attainment.  Can anyone give me an intelligent critique of that? 

  7. raycon and lindacon

    You presuppose that the decline of the family is independent of the education system.  The government school system has traded education in subjects developed over centuries to prepare children for adult life in the world around them for subjects that normalize a life outside of their own families, communalism, and indoctrinate them in the social activism of government.

    A significant part of the teaching day is dedicated to the dilution of the family as the life influence of a child.  He learns sex not as a matter of purity and commitment, but as the mechanics of pleasure.  He learns that his family are members of the pathological America with a history to be embarrassed of.  He learns that his dad, if he is a part of the family, engages in a world of commerce that preys upon and exploits the weak.

    The education system is not the basis for a successful adult, the family is.  But the success of the education system in undermining that family is the problem. 

    Tests are a meaningless measure of educational success. 

    Lives well lived is. 

    And by that measure, American education is a success, measured by the damage it has done.

  8. Diaryof1

    This WaPo article about blaming stressed-out parents for failing education makes a point about spending much energy figuring out who to blame. Just another version of the chicken-or-the-egg.

    Instead, focus on solutions not on placing blame. I do believe that it’s impossible to sort out what portion of blame belongs to societal/family breakdown, what part belongs to the educational bureaucracy, and what effect the one had on the other. Forget about funding studies to find out this information and just start from where you are –there are a thousand different starting points and indeed battles should be fought on every front, from individual families to local communities to top levels of Washington.

    Those gifted in family counseling should do everything in their power to help families in crisis to function better; those with teaching gifts should teach, help others become better teachers, and even start better schools; those in positions of public power should use their influence to create more efficient models of education and throw out the vile. It will take every single moral, conservative, intelligent member of society to solve this problem using their varied gifts.

  9. Pseudodionysius

    Can someone give some analysis? Can anyone at Ricochet even attempt to address the seeming contradiction in these conservative talking points?  I am trying to improve my own thinking on this subject. 

    Read E.D. Hirsch on the problem with content less curricula. Sol Stern has written about him extensively in City Journal.

  10. Schrodinger

    Cntd from #14

    We show that outcomes for both types of children in blended families — stepchildren and their half-siblings who are the joint biological children of both parents — are similar to each other and substantially worse than outcomes for children reared in traditional nuclear families.

    Family Structure and Children’s Educational Outcomes:Blended Families, Stylized Facts, and Descriptive Regressions*

    Donna K. Ginther and Robert A. Pollak

    Contact information Ginther:

    Department of Economics

    University of Kansas

    1300 Sunnyside Drive

    Lawrence, KS 66045-7585

    (785)864-3251 phone

     

    Also,

    In this article, we set out to examine the relationship between family disruption and children’s educational attainment.

    children who experience a parental disruption are still 6–13 percentage points less likely to successfully make the transition from lower secondary school and to complete higher secondary education

    disruption has the strongest effect early rather than later in the educational career.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831341/

  11. Spin

    I was trying to figure out how many kids take the SATs, per capita, on the working hypothesis that the failure of families causes a lot of kids to simply not try.  I couldn’t find any data on the subject, however.  

    I would guess that fewer and fewer students take the SAT, and the ones that do are headed for success as their families aren’t suffering from the decline.  Wish I had more data to verify.  

  12. Augustine

    1. Some are arguing that the SAT scores have gone down.  I was aware of the re-norming of the test a couple decades ago.  My impression is that compared to, say, 40 years ago SAT scores are down slightly.  But our family breakdown numbers might suggest a total collapse was more likely.  Remember when Moynihan wrote about the crisis of the “Negro” family (his terminology) in the 1960s the illegitimacy rate amongst blacks was about 30%.  It is now 70% and the rate for the population as a whole is about 40%. 

    2. People aren’t arguing about NAEP scores, possibly because they are not as familiar with the test.  NAEP scores, which have NOT been re-normed to my knowledge, show essential flatness. 

    3. Maybe what we are seeing is bifurcation that is hidden in the aggregate numbers.  Some are citing studies showing how children of non-intact (for lack of better term) families underperform in education.  Perhaps, a la Charles Murray and Kay Hymowitz, there is one part of the population that is thriving (those that are married, stay married, obey the law, hold down a job, etc) and another segment that is in free fall. 

  13. Foxfier
    Cattle King

    Mama Toad: Or does it reflect the dumbing-down of those tests? 

    The tests have very strong reasons to maintain consistency, so I cannot believe they’ve been dumbed down. 

    Might want to re-examine your beliefs; it’s old news (as in, when I was the target customer in the late 90s and 00s) that the SAT needed to do more “work” on their results because too many minorities were scoring low, even after years of tweaking.  Scores are still going down and get unpleasant results like higher income kids doing better.

    If spending more improved things, there would be an adjustment in results after spending changed.   Heritage.org has lots of reports on that.  If you want to get annoyed, check out Derbyshire’s politically incorrect articles on what does tend to correlate highly with results.

  14. Doug Kimball

    Here in AZ, but here perhaps more acutely, demographics are the biggest obstacle to improved education.  Poor districts suffer not only from lack of local money, but from the English language deficiencies among hispanics and a general Native American malaise and despair.  Unassimilated hispanics and reservation Indians simply do not place the same value on school and learning as do other demographic groups.  Their children drop out at much higher rates and this is true in both urban and rural districts.   Affected districts, already poor by comparison to suburban schools, must compete with suburban schools for teachers and administrators while spending disproportionately more on English learners and underperforming students, generally, for a host of the reasons that correlate with poverty.  This puts districts in a kind of educational death spiral.  There are no easy answers to these problems.  Choice and charter schools will help the children of parents who care, but this leaves the public schools with all the hard cases.  First and foremost, these schools need adequate basic resources – books, supplies, qualified teachers.  Many don’t.  An assessment of those things should be the very first step.

  15. Snirtler

    Are we certain we’ve observed a perverse triumph, as Cattle King describes? Here’s a stab at the empirics. SAT and NAEP figures describe students from various types of schools. It makes sense to distinguish the performance of students in schools receiving federal funding from that of students attending schools without funding.

    An Arizona study, for example, shows that in 2008/09, students in non-Title I schools (no federal funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) outperformed in reading and math proficiency their counterparts in Title I schools “in improvement” (those subject to No Child Left Behind sanctions) and in Title I schools “not in improvement” (Title I schools satisfying NCLB standards).  Despite the federal funding, the students in Title I schools still did not perform as well as those in schools without funding.

    https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=REL2012019

    This was  a one-year snapshot. One could disaggregate student performance by school type and track changes, if any, since the 1970s. We can’t conclude simply from looking at SAT and NAEP figures across time if federal funding has held education performance steady amid a backdrop of family breakdown.

  16. Nathaniel Wright

    What percentage of current education expense goes toward retirement funding for existing and future retirees? 

    Are we paying the equivalent of 3 salaries per teaching position?  What about additional bureaucratic costs?  How much of our education dollar goes to actual in class instruction?

  17. Foxfier
    Nathaniel Wright: What percentage of current education expense goes toward retirement funding for existing and future retirees? 

    Are we paying the equivalent of 3 salaries per teaching position?  What about additional bureaucratic costs?  How much of our education dollar goes to actual in class instruction? · 9 minutes ago

    Got to figure in administrators and positions that are minders instead of instructors, too.

  18. Augustine

    It is true that an unusually high percentage increase (I used to know the number, but have long forgotten it) in educational spending goes to administration.  Thank you Washington, D.C.

  19. Flapjack
    Cattle King

    Mama Toad: Or does it reflect the dumbing-down of those tests? · 17 minutes ago

    The tests have very strong reasons to maintain consistency, so I cannot believe they’ve been dumbed down.  · 5 hours ago

    Granted, the SAT and NEAP tests are probably a different story (though attempts to remove “cultural bias” might suggest otherwise), but…

    The testors (i.e., those who mandate the use of state-level tests) have very good reason to dumb down the test: Better publishable numbers.  As a former teacher, I can assure you that actual student education is a distant second (if indeed it is second) to the numbers reported as a result of mandated testing.  In the end, the numbers become the goal, not mastery of content.

  20. AlrightAlready

    Let’s not forget the possible positive impact of home schooling; it may be bouying up the overall results that keep things “flat”.  One would need to see that segment of the testing results separated out. Of course home schooling counts as those “not receiving federal funding”.  Any idea what percent of college-bound population (which I think has been on the increase in the last two decades) come from home-school situations?  It may be only a very tiny percentage.

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