NYC Chancellor Joel Klien’s new editorial will make lots of people uncomfortable:
Too many people today excuse teachers, principals and school superintendents who fail to substantially raise the performance of low-income minority students by claiming that schools cannot really be held accountable for student achievement because disadvantaged students bear multiple burdens of poverty.
In fact, the skeptics of urban schools have got the diagnosis exactly backward. The truth is that America will never fix poverty until it fixes its urban schools.
In 2007, the National Assessment of Educational Progress did a special assessment in 11 big cities. The results show that low-income black fourth graders in D.C. score about 20 points lower on the NAEP than low-income black fourth graders in Charlotte, N.C., and New York City in both math and reading. To translate that into plain English, low-income black students in the district are two years behind their black peers in Charlotte and New York City by the time they reach fourth grade.
Therefore, the mere fact of being black and poor cannot explain why low-income black students in Washington are years behind their peers in some big cities. By contrast, if extra spending and additional resources really were the antidote for the achievement gap, black students in D.C. should handily outstrip most of their urban peers. With the exception of the Boston school district, D.C. spent more per pupil than any other of the largest 100 school districts in the 2004-05 school year.
Let the arrows fly….