Friday, February 03, 2006

Education policy wankery

Via TPMCafe, School Frays:
the real crisis in American education is dysfunctional urban school systems attributable to high percentages of students coming from low-income families. Moving lots of low-income kids from high-poverty, conventional public schools to high-poverty private schools or high-poverty charter schools won't solve that crisis, as the mounting evidence is showing. What does work is to get low-income kids dispersed into middle-class schools.
The first sentence restates what the Post Audit report in Kansas found, that additional targeted spending was necessary to achieve educational goals in urban Kansas (a phrase used far too rarely).

Given the dearth of high-density urban areas in Kansas, putting together a serious plan to shuffle students around shouldn't be too hard. Put together sister-school relationships between suburban and urban schools, bus students between communities, maybe have teachers work half the week in one school and half in the other.

It wouldn't require rethinking rural schools, which generally manage fine without outside interference. Kansas has an easier situation than states with larger urban cores, and a successful experiment in Wichita or KCK might really benefit other areas.

It's worth noting that this fairly obvious (and heavy handed?) solution is not entirely compatible with local control. No school district will voluntarily send a bunch of students elsewhere and take in a bunch of new students who pay taxes elsewhere. That means the legislature would probably have to get involved.