50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David C. Berliner, Gene Glass, and Associates

Mayoral Control and Segregation Myths

  • A number of large and middle size cities have given control of schools to mayors in the last 20 years. Collectively, there is no evidence that this has been positive. Mayors by nature are political animals and as a result, the appointments they make are fraught with patronage. If a mayor needs to pay back a supporter, there are many jobs and board positions available to choose from. Cities like Washington D.C. have seen a large increase in teacher turnover under mayoral control. Charters tend to thrive as many of the mayor’s cronies are charter supporters or even in the charter business. Charters can also result in gentrification of certain neighborhoods, which drives out poorer families.
  • After the Board vs Brown supreme court decision in 1954, many schools were gradually desegregated. Within the last decade or so, the shift has been in the other direction, and there has been very little effort or attention paid to the matter. What we know is that when schools are integrated, students of color do better and white students do about the same. The benefit to white students is more social in nature as they engage in more integrated social relations later in life. This is a big help for a white kid who ends up in an integrated workplace. White kids from all white schools are less likely to choose to take advantage of opportunities in big cities that are mostly integrated. (Doug: My daughter attended integrated K-12 schools and had an easy time adapting to life in New York City where she has worked continuously since she graduated from college in 2006.)

Follow the Money

  • There are several myths surrounding the costs of schools. One is that we are wasting vast sums on a broken system. With higher NAEP scores and twice as many students going to college since 1976, this is hard to support. Most of the increased funding has gone to support the burgeoning special education program. There is much data to support the idea that more resources result in better outcomes. With more money you can hire more experienced teachers, have smaller class sizes, and buy more supplies and equipment. Even within some districts, magnet schools get more resources.
  • The federal government only supplies 8% of public school funding, but as you must know, it has an outsized control. The feds do try to help poor districts get more funds, but they don’t come close to evening the playing field. Have-not school districts end up with far fewer dollars-per-pupil. The courts have tried to tell states that the way schools are funded is illegal, but change has come slowly if at all.
  • While you would think that religious schools shouldn’t get taxpayer money, in fact they get a lot. Tax credits, vouchers, and Title I funding all serve to support these schools. This continues no matter how poorly a school performs. Nonreligious private schools also have access to this support.
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One Response to “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David C. Berliner, Gene Glass, and Associates”

  1. […] These aren’t easy problems to solve. But we need to think about how to tackle them now. Otherwise, our children’s standard of schooling will be rapidly sliding downhill. […]

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