Congrats to Stanford Law and Policy Lab. They have identified the problem but are pursuing an epic failure with their solution. It seems the top-tier school has finally figured out that tying children to failing schools by their zip codes systematically oppresses black and brown children. President Trump knew that when he called school choice the civil rights issue of our time. However, Stanford is taking the standard approach of over-educated leftists. As is typical, they detected disparate outcomes in a system they are evaluating, they blamed it on racism and their first instinct was to lower the standards.
Their practicum is The Youth Justice Lab: Imagining an Anti-Racist Public Education System. Perhaps they would like to engage in a deeper analysis. Recently I wrote about a teen in Baltimore who only passed three classes in his entire high school career. Even more shocking, with a GPA of 0.13, his class rank was 62 out of 120 students The mayor of Baltimore City is black, the city council is extremely diverse, and the CEO of Baltimore City Schools is also black. The school district’s average teacher salary is $62,000, and its per-student spending was the third highest in the nation in 2019.
This overall picture of well-funded schools with a minority-led city government and school leadership is common in underperforming urban school districts. These districts have financial resources, and it would be hard to imagine their leadership’s primary goal is to hold students down based on racial identity. Instead, schools and individual student school performances are a multi-factor analysis. It is not as simple as assigning a motive, as Stanford Law has.
Luckily, Stanford University has one of the most astute students on inequity in education at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Thomas Sowell wrote a data-filled book called Charter Schools and Their Enemies. He demonstrates that charter schools, free from mandates from the local school board, can operate in the same building as a public school and produce significantly better results with predominantly minority populations. He spends quite a bit of time evaluating Success Academy, a charter school system comprised of 47 schools in New York City that enroll approximately 20,000 students.
Success Academy enrolls students through a lottery in underserved neighborhoods. In the last year that students in New York took standardized tests, Success Academy students had the state’s highest scores. Of the more than 7,000 students who took the exams, 99% passed the math portion, with 86% achieving the highest score, and 90% passed the English and language arts portion, with 41% achieving the highest score. The student population that took the tests was diverse and had an average household income of less than $50,000 in one of the world’s highest cost-of-living cities.
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