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    Joined: Feb 2011
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    Yeah, I kind of can, too.

    I'm certainly not going to DEPRIVE my daughter of enrichment as a means of 'narrowing the gap,' but at the same time, I know darned good and well that my lifetime earning potential was stunted significantly by the limitations imposed by my SES in childhood.

    It bothers me also that some of those kids who won't get the chance to become neurologists or physicists or college professors would have been a lot BETTER at those things than the slightly less able, but ideally advantaged kids who will grab those openings instead.

    We don't have so much talent that we ought to be throwing it away. frown


    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Val Offline
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    Originally Posted by DAD22
    There is a certain segment of the population that will never be convinced that a school is doing good things for everyone if any kind of achievement gap can be measured. It seems to me that schools have been implementing policies specifically designed to lessen or eliminate achievement gaps, but they persist.

    The thing is that achievement gaps will always exist, regardless of the field of endeavor. The reasons for the gaps are complex. Home environment, nutritional status, health status, internal drive, and innate ability all affect a student's relative level of achievement.

    What bothers me about many educators is the belief that they can make achievement gaps disappear. This is wishful thinking. Unless everyone gets the same score on every homework assignment, quiz, and exam, there will always be achievement gaps. And wishful thinking damages kids at the higher end who get gypped out of appropriate instruction because of being "already proficient."

    Personally, I think that an important idea has been missing from this discussion. We need to do a better job of ensuring that low SES people have access to safe housing, food, and healthcare. No, this will not solve all of our problems, but it sure would help. There is also the problem of shipping skilled blue collar jobs overseas. This trend puts a lot of people in a difficult position and is probably an important factor driving our current everyone-must-go-to-college mania.

    Some years ago, Irish universities abolished fees (tuition). The thinking was that costs were keeping low-income students out of college. Enrollment statistics didn't change very much:

    Originally Posted by UCD Study
    University tuition fees for undergraduates were abolished in Ireland in 1996. This paper examines the effect of this reform on the socio-economic gradient (SES) to determine whether the reform was successful in achieving its objective of promoting educational equality. It finds that the reform clearly did not have that effect. It is also shown that the university/SES gradient can be explained by differential performance at second level which also explains the gap between the sexes. ... The results are very similar to recent findings for the UK. I also find that certain demographic characteristics have large negative effects on school performance i.e. having a disabled or deceased parent. The results show that the effect of SES on school performance is generally stronger for those at the lower end of the conditional distribution of academic attainment.

    Keep in mind that Ireland has a national curriculum and school funding is much fairer than it is in the US. I knew lots of wealthy families there who sent their kids to state schools, because the schools are pretty good.

    I know that it can be very difficult for a teenager from a depressed neighborhood to attend university, in part because some of the people around this person will make accusations about "thinking you're better than the rest of us" and suchlike. But I also know that not everyone faces this problem.

    I suppose what I'm saying here is that there are many cases where people really aren't best-served by going to college, yet may have limited options otherwise in the absence of manufacturing jobs and skills blue collar jobs that pay a living wage.

    So again, it's a complex problem and we won't fix it by looking at single things or even a few things (e.g. classroom size, teacher pay, high stakes tests).

    Last edited by Val; 05/01/13 01:28 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Val
    Originally Posted by DAD22
    There is a certain segment of the population that will never be convinced that a school is doing good things for everyone if any kind of achievement gap can be measured. It seems to me that schools have been implementing policies specifically designed to lessen or eliminate achievement gaps, but they persist.

    The thing is that achievement gaps will always exist, regardless of the field of endeavor. The reasons for the gaps are complex. Home environment, nutritional status, health status, internal drive, and innate ability all affect a student's relative level of achievement.

    What bothers me about many educators is the belief that they can make achievement gaps disappear. This is wishful thinking. Unless everyone gets the same score on every homework assignment, quiz, and exam, there will always be achievement gaps. And wishful thinking damages kids at the higher end who get gypped out of appropriate instruction because of being "already proficient."

    Personally, I think that an important idea has been missing from this discussion. We need to do a better job of ensuring that low SES people have access to safe housing, food, and healthcare. No, this will not solve all of our problems, but it sure would help. There is also the problem of shipping skilled blue collar jobs overseas. This trend puts a lot of people in a difficult position and is probably an important factor driving our current everyone-must-go-to-college mania.

    Some years ago, Irish universities abolished fees (tuition). The thinking was that costs were keeping low-income students out of college. Enrollment statistics didn't change very much:

    Originally Posted by UCD Study
    University tuition fees for undergraduates were abolished in Ireland in 1996. This paper examines the effect of this reform on the socio-economic gradient (SES) to determine whether the reform was successful in achieving its objective of promoting educational equality. It finds that the reform clearly did not have that effect. It is also shown that the university/SES gradient can be explained by differential performance at second level which also explains the gap between the sexes. ... The results are very similar to recent findings for the UK. I also find that certain demographic characteristics have large negative effects on school performance i.e. having a disabled or deceased parent. The results show that the effect of SES on school performance is generally stronger for those at the lower end of the conditional distribution of academic attainment.

    Keep in mind that Ireland has a national curriculum and school funding is much fairer than it is in the US. I knew lots of wealthy families there who sent their kids to state schools, because the schools are pretty good.

    I know that it can be very difficult for a teenager from a depressed neighborhood to attend university, in part because some of the people around this person will make accusations about "thinking you're better than the rest of us" and suchlike. But I also know that not everyone faces this problem.

    I suppose what I'm saying here is that there are many cases where people really aren't best-served by going to college, yet may have limited options otherwise in the absence of manufacturing jobs and skills blue collar jobs that pay a living wage.

    So again, it's a complex problem and we won't fix it by looking at single things or even a few things (e.g. classroom size, teacher pay, high stakes tests).

    I appreciate the info. about Ireland. Interesting. It is certainly a complex problem. I know you didn't mention race, and you said that not everyone of low SES faces the problem of being accused of thinking they are "better than", but I thought this article shed some light on aspects of that idea.

    The Acting White Myth Show Me the Numbers: Why the academic achievement gap is not rooted in black anti-intellectualism.

    Edited to add: my German husband and his family would strongly agree with you about the college mentality here. We have relatives and friends who thrived under the apprentice system (not that it is without flaws) there and had meaningful work and a good quality of life. I admit it is difficult to hear though that my (I would bet $) gifted nephew is already asking his parents to let him take the lower track for middle school so he can still hang out with his frieds. He is 9. This is a kid who excels at math who is getting in trouble for finishing his work early and then finding ways to amuse himself. Anyway, we have this discussion frequently in my house.

    Last edited by deacongirl; 05/01/13 01:52 PM.
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    Exactly-- and we do seem, as a society, to be VERY focused on looking at those things. Is it because they yield numbers?

    Is that really it? That we're looking under the streetlamp merely because we can 'see' there? (Reference to the adage of losing your keys on a dark street and only looking under the streetlight at one end.)




    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Equality of outcomes is never going to happen, because people are different. But we can only be a meritocratic society when everyone has an equality of opportunity. And that's where we, as a society, are failing. This whole conversation has been about the opportunities gap.

    If every child, regardless of SES, had access to adequate nutrition, healthcare, freedom from violence, and a high-quality education, then the gaps we can measure among SES strata would decrease significantly, because so many other studies have shown that environmental factors matter more than genes when it comes to educational attainment.

    Of course, we have to first decide we want to be a meritocratic society. I find DAD22's statement here to be most instructive:

    Originally Posted by DAD22
    As someone who grew up in a broken home, and received no advocacy regarding a public school education that never challenged me mathematically, I see the appeal of meritocratic education. As a parent with a family income over $165,000, I will be doing everything I can to make sure my kids have their educational needs met, in and out of school. I will do my best to set them up for success, and I am not interested in funding an equally enriching childhood for every one of their peers. Contradictory and hypocritical... maybe. I can kind of see things from both sides.

    I see nothing contradictory or hypocritical in this view. Meritocracy is good when it benefits the underprivileged individual, but when advantages have been secured, and can be passed down to future generations, meritocracy is a threat. These advantages must be protected from the masses, who might also rise up to challenge the status quo based on their merits. The field of competitors must be thinned. This has been the reaction of the privileged classes throughout history.

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    But we can only be a meritocratic society when everyone has an equality of opportunity.

    You were reading my mind re: separating equality of opportunity and outcome. I'll let Goethe speak for the rest of my point:

    “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”


    What is to give light must endure burning.
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    Originally Posted by aquinas
    Originally Posted by Dude
    But we can only be a meritocratic society when everyone has an equality of opportunity.

    You were reading my mind re: separating equality of opportunity and outcome. I'll let Goethe speak for the rest of my point:

    “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”
    Wow. Great quote. (except...I better shape up my parenting!)

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    Originally Posted by deacongirl
    Originally Posted by aquinas
    Originally Posted by Dude
    But we can only be a meritocratic society when everyone has an equality of opportunity.

    You were reading my mind re: separating equality of opportunity and outcome. I'll let Goethe speak for the rest of my point:

    “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

    Wow. Great quote. (except...I better shape up my parenting!)

    It's a great life philosophy. smile


    What is to give light must endure burning.
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    Originally Posted by aquinas
    Originally Posted by deacongirl
    Originally Posted by aquinas
    Originally Posted by Dude
    But we can only be a meritocratic society when everyone has an equality of opportunity.

    You were reading my mind re: separating equality of opportunity and outcome. I'll let Goethe speak for the rest of my point:

    “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

    Wow. Great quote. (except...I better shape up my parenting!)

    It's a great life philosophy. smile

    I bet it works equally well on spouses! grin

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    Originally Posted by deacongirl
    I bet it works equally well on spouses! grin

    You'll have to ask my husband...I'm the defunct one! wink


    What is to give light must endure burning.
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