Improving Chances for Our Children
Posted On September 24, 2018
By Che Watkins, The Center for Working Families
The American Educational Research Association has recently completed a study that tells us in part what we already know – place matters when it comes to educating our children. What was interesting about the study is that place actually matters even more than attending a private versus a public school. Essentially, all of the advantages of private school disappear when controlling for socioeconomic factors.
The study tracked 1,300 kids that were born in 1991 at 10 different locations across the country, and followed them through ninth grade in high school. If you assessed the students just based on success at private school versus public school and don’t consider any other factor in the kids’ history, the study shows huge benefits to being in private school in terms of test scores, motivation, etc. However, as soon as the researchers included family income, those differences disappear — and they never reappear again, no matter how many other variables that you put in.
Why would that be? Well, family income and background typically determines whether or not the child has access to early learning opportunities even before the child even goes to school in kindergarten. Of course, there are a number of cases of poor children attending public and private schools that achieve a level of success. However, the study notes that as a society, we make crucial policy decisions based on the majority.
So, what do we as a society do about that so that children, who have no control over the zip code in which they are born, still have access to opportunity and are able to excel. We have to acknowledge once and for all that the success of a child is directly driven by the success of the parent. We must do more to ensure that there are not only wrap around services for these families – like food pantries, clothing closets, etc. – but that those parents have the ability to grow and learn just like their children. Increased access to technical college programs, better access to livable wage jobs and opportunities, community improvement efforts around affordable housing and access to transportation, all of these are key to the success of parents. We must do better when it comes to holistic approaches to family economic success. We have the tools! Now let’s get to work!
American Educational Research AssociationatlantaAtlanta Public SchoolsCharter schoolsChe Watkinsearly childhood educationeducationpoverty and equityPrivate schoolsThe Center for Working Families