Edwards’ integration plan

Aaron Hanscom, who teaches at an all-minority elementary school in Watts (OK, there’s one white kid), wonders why John Edwards wants to spend $100 million to get poor kids enrolled at middle-class schools and middle-class kids lured to inner-city magnet schools but not one cent on charters or vouchers.

Say Anything also thinks low-income parents would benefit from getting a voucher they could spend at a private school, charter or suburban public school.

A commenter points out that a judge ordered $2 billion in extra spending to integrate Kansas City schools. It paid for lavish facilities and special programs in the inner city.

The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.

Achievement didn’t improve. Neither did integration.

Eventually, the program was abandoned. The expanded bureaucracy remains, writes Joe Miller in Cross X.

While some low-income students would benefit from attending predominantly middle-class schools, I think the most disadvantaged do best in small schools designed to meet their needs, such as the charter school I write about in Our School. The best educational program for the children of educated parents often isn’t necessarily the most effective for children whose parents can’t do much to supplement and support their education at home.

Update: Liam Julian suggests devoting money and energy to improving all schools (and providing choice) rather than busing kids hither and yon.

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  1. You know, if districts would just mandate a real core curriculum–something with genuine meat to it, to which all teachers were accountable–it would be much easier to guarantee a measure of equity to all students, regardless of what schol they went to and what teacher they happened to get. It doesn’t solve all problems, by any means–but without having that as a first step, none of these expensive bandaids accomplish anything.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If busing worked, perhaps we could require every child to attend school a minimum 30 minute bus ride from home. Think of the job creation potential.


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