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Some Questions About This American Life’s School Integration Story

This week's episode of This American Life on NPR focuses on the continuing issue of desegregation in schools—a problem that seems to be a major contributor to income inequality. Education expert, Alexander Russo, points out that despite the merits of discussing such an important topic, there remain several unanswered questions regarding "the problem we all live with." Russo points out Rick Kahlenberg's commentary featured in the show, in which he says, "School integration efforts aren’t entirely dead."

"Does the show, which first aired on Friday and has been available online since last night, describe school integration as too much of a silver bullet? Is the comparison between integration and other school improvement efforts fair and complete? Does the narrative that integration is almost a taboo subject in education policy discussions ring true?"

Read Russo's full article here from Washington Monthly.

Tags: school integration, npr, desegregation

Summary: Lessons From School Improvement Grants That Worked

TCF senior fellow Greg Anrig takes a critical look at School Improvement Grants (SIGs) and how, if implemented strategically, they can succeed in turning around struggling schools.

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Teacher Unions and Civil Rights Groups Battle over Future of No Child Left Behind

The Senate passed an education bill this month to replace No Child Left Behind. An amendment to continue tracking the test scores of low-performing schools pitted civil rights groups, who were in favor of continued tracking, against teachers' unions, and was ultimately defeated. The Deseret News spoke with TCF fellow Halley Potter about the amendment's failure and why those groups responded in the way they did:

Potter says she understands why teachers are concerned. "We haven't had a good track record of healthy alternatives to punishment," she said, "and teachers have been too often blamed for school and societal failures that lie wholly outside their control.

"Regardless of what you think of the NEA's advocacy on these issues," Potter said, "if you care about the future of education you have to ask why they are reacting this way."

The full article is available here.

Tags: teachers unions, standardized testing, no child left behind, education

The Constraints of Poverty on Open Choice: A Baltimore Case Study

A case study of Baltimore students who are given the opportunity to choose which high school to attend shows evidence that school choice is a worthy program, but often misused.

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The Sesame Street Effect

In The Atlantic, Alia Wong discusses the role that shows like Sesame Street may play in fighting educational inequality. The article cites TCF's recent report on segregation in pre-K classrooms:

Preschoolers in state-run programs—the majority of whom are racial minorities—tend to be clustered in pre-k classrooms serving high concentrations of impoverished children of color, according to the TCF report, which was published in partnership with the Poverty & Race Research Action Council. Only a sliver of the children sampled in the TCF report were enrolled in classrooms that were both racially diverse and medium- to high-income.

The full article is available here.

Tags: universal pre-k, socioeconomic integration, educational inequality, education

New Focus on Diversity in Head Start

The National Head Start Program provides low-income children with affordable access to pre-K, however a recent DHHS proposal would make this program even better by increasing the potential for classroom diversity.

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Education

Education

Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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