‘Nothing worked’

Nathan Glazer’s Warning should be heeded, writes Howard Husock in City Journal.  In The Limits of Social Policy, the Harvard sociologist reviewed the research on education, training and poverty programs including the Job Corps, Head Start, Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the school breakfast program and early-childhood education programs.

“At least some of the states known for high expenditure on education and social needs have shown remarkably poor records.”

“After having done badly in schooling, we do not do well at making up for the failure through work-training programs, though we have certainly tried.”

And crucially: “The evaluations of specific programs that were available during the first ten years after the launching of the [War on Poverty] confirmed the verdict: nothing worked, and, in particular, nothing that one did in education worked.”

A neoconservative, Glazer came to see social policy as grandiose and too focused on “remaking” individuals instead of supporting families, writes Husock.

 Any social policy, he writes in Limits, must be judged against “the simple reality that every piece of social policy substitutes for some traditional arrangement, whether good or bad, a new arrangement in which public authorities take over, at least in part, the role of the family, of the ethnic and neighborhood group, of voluntary associations.”

Traditional agents are weakened and the needy are encouraged to depend on the government, Glazer wrote. That increases the demand for more social programs, which inevitably fail to produce the desired results.



A tale of two cities

Gerald Grant’s Hope and Despair in the American City: Why there are no bad schools in Raleigh is really a tale of two cities — decaying Syracuse and thriving Raleigh — writes Nathan Glazer in Education Next.

A Syracuse native and a professor at Syracuse University, Grant worked to counter the decline of the city’s public schools.

But in the end, there remains an ailing minority-dominated school system in Syracuse in which fewer than 3 of 10 8th graders pass state tests in reading and math.

And then there is Raleigh, where more than 8 of 10 pass . . .

In Raleigh, Grant visits a majority-black school in a black neighborhood that attracts whites to its magnet program in arts and sciences.

In 3rd grade 94 percent of white children and 79 percent of blacks passed the state math test. By 5th grade 100 percent of both blacks and whites passed the test.

Glazer credits the merger of Raleigh’s city schools with the surrounding county, coupled with strong leadership and a booming economy for creating an effective school system. Here’s a video of Glazer discussing: Has integration made Raleigh’s schools great?

Wake County schools consider family income in assigning students to schools to achieve socioeconomic diversity (and avoid using race).  A new school board, elected by voters who favor neighborhood schools, decided this week to end that policy and return to neighborhood schools.

While Raleigh/Wake County students perform well above the state and national averages, whites do much better than blacks and Hispanics, notes the New York Times.