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Progressives threaten to destroy school reform… – Publications – AEI

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AEI Progressives threaten to destroy school reform… …. is the title of Jason Riley’s op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal with the sub-title “They talk about equality, then fiercely oppose measures that stand a chance of achieving it.” Here’s an excerpt: The irony is that the same progressives who obsess over inequality and statistical disparities also fume at education reforms that have helped narrow learning gaps and thus led to better life outcomes for underprivileged groups in general (see Venn diagram version above). After New York City released admissions data last month for the city’s most selective public high schools, where students are chosen based on a single, race-blind test, I reached out to the Success Academy Charter Schools network to find out how their

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AEI
Progressives threaten to destroy school reform…

Progressives threaten to destroy school reform… - Publications – AEI Progressives threaten to destroy school reform… - Publications – AEI

…. is the title of Jason Riley’s op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal with the sub-title “They talk about equality, then fiercely oppose measures that stand a chance of achieving it.” Here’s an excerpt:

The irony is that the same progressives who obsess over inequality and statistical disparities also fume at education reforms that have helped narrow learning gaps and thus led to better life outcomes for underprivileged groups in general (see Venn diagram version above).

After New York City released admissions data last month for the city’s most selective public high schools, where students are chosen based on a single, race-blind test, I reached out to the Success Academy Charter Schools network to find out how their middle-schoolers fared. It turns out that black and Hispanic students at Success Academy, which chooses students by lottery rather than academic ability, were admitted to the elite high schools at double the rate of their black and Hispanic peers citywide. I wasn’t surprised. The same thing happened last year.

The table above (click to enlarge) shows the top 30 elementary (and some through middle and high school) in New York state based on the “Average Standard Score” for 2018 out of 2,400 schools statewide. Note that there are 16 Success Academy Charter Schools in the top 30 schools statewide, along with two other charter schools in the elite group of the 30 highest ranking schools in the state (the top 1.3%). Note also that compared to the 14 non-Success Academy Charter Schools in the state’s top 30 schools, the Success Academy schools have a much higher percentage of low-income students qualifying for free/discount lunch (70.1% vs. 28.5% and note that one school has 0%) and a much higher percentage of black students (58.7% vs. 10%). And as Jason points out in his op-ed, Success Academy Charters admit students by lottery and not by academic abilities like at least of some of their non-charter counterparts.

Here’s more from Jason Riley’s op-ed:

Bill de Blasio, New York’s progressive mayor, wants the elite schools to be more racially balanced and has called for replacing the entrance exam with what amounts to a racial quota system. This year, as usual, Asian-Americans were awarded more than half of all slots, even though they comprise only about 16% of the city’s public-school students. Understandably, Asian parents oppose the mayor’s proposal. A study released by the city’s Independent Budget Office surmised that the de Blasio plan would cut Asian admissions in half. But even some black parents have expressed concern that admitting underprepared kids to these schools for aesthetic reasons could turn them into academic failures and targets of abuse.

The obvious way for Mr. de Blasio to advance his diversity goals without watering down admissions standards or exacerbating racial and ethnic tensions would be to give lagging groups more access to schools like Success Academy. “If the city had more high-performing charter schools, the specialized schools would be dramatically more diverse,” said Seth Andrew, founder of another high-performing public charter-school network in New York, Democracy Prep. But teachers unions oppose charter schools because they don’t control them, and the mayor has chosen his union allies over parents who want more school choice. The upshot is that the city’s charter-school wait list now exceeds 50,000 children.

MP: In a 2017 CD post “The amazing, ‘eye-popping’ success of Success Academy Charter Schools” I concluded:

In a saner and more sensible world where students and learning are really the No. 1 priority, the educational establishment (including members of the teacher unions and the NYC mayor) would be “falling all over themselves” to copy the proven educational success of charter schools like the 16 Success Academy Charters profiled above. But in the insane world of New York City where unionized teachers have a stranglehold on public schools, the liberal mayor, and liberal teacher unions are waging a war on the city’s most successful charter schools including the ones operated by Success Academy Charter Schools. Preservation of the status quo and a continuation of the current failed public school model, and preserving its power, are the primary concerns of the teachers unions and their administrative enablers, which now includes the new New York mayor de Blasio.

It’s also a perfect opportunity to invoke Perry’s Principle which says that progressives (including teachers unions) don’t really value people (students, parents), they value power over people or just plain straight-up political power.

Progressives threaten to destroy school reform…
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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