Tag Archives: poor children

The REAL civil rights issue is not ‘hands up,’ but equitable education funding

19 Mar

Plessy v. Ferguson http://www.streetlaw.org/en/landmark/cases/plessy_v_ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v. Board of Education http://www.streetlaw.org/en/landmark/cases/brown_v_board_of_education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/resources/two.html

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the city and there must be good schools in all parts of this state. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

The lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This state cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

Sabra Bireda wrote in the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably

The old axiom that the rich get richer certainly plays out in the American classroom—often to the detriment of achieving academic success. Data on intradistrict funding inequities in many large school districts confirm

what most would guess—high-poverty schools actually receive less money per pupil than more affluent schools.1 These funding inequities have real repercussions for the quality of education offered at high-poverty schools and a district’s ability to overcome the achievement gap between groups of students defined by family income or ethnicity.

The source of these funding inequities is not a deliberate scheme designed to steer more state and local funds to affluent schools. Rather it is often the result of an accumulation of higher-paid, more senior teachers working in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools typically employ less-experienced, lower-paid teachers, thereby drawing down less of the district’s funds. The imbalance in funding created by this situation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars school by school.2 Archaic budgeting practices that track positions instead of actual school expenditures only serve to reinforce this inequity.   https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2011/03/28/9310/funding-education-equitably/

Bireda’s findings are supported by a U.S. Department of Education (Education Department) report.

In the report, Comparability of State and Local Expenditures Among Schools Within Districts: A Report From the Study of School-Level Expenditures, the Education Department finds:

For the study, Education Department researchers analyzed new school-level spending and teacher salary data submitted by more than 13,000 school districts as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This school level expenditure data was made available for the first time ever in this data collection.

Using the data from the ARRA collection, Department staff analyzed the impact and feasibility of making this change to Title I comparability. That policy brief finds that:

Fixing the comparability provision is feasible. As many as 28 percent of Title I districts would be out of compliance with reformed comparability provisions. But compliance for those districts is not as costly as some might think—fixing it would cost only 1 percent to 4 percent of their total school-level expenditures on average.

Fixing the comparability provision would have a large impact. The benefit to low-spending Title I schools would be significant, as their expenditures would increase by 4 percent to 15 percent. And the low-spending schools that would benefit have much higher poverty rates than other schools in their districts.                                                                                                                                             http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/title-i/school-level-expenditures/school-level-expenditures.pdf

Emma Brown reported in the Washington Post article, In 23 states, richer school districts get more local funding than poorer districts, about the continuing inequity.

According to Brown:

But in 23 states, state and local governments are together spending less per pupil in the poorest school districts than they are in the most affluent school districts, according to federal data from fiscal year 2012, the most recent figures available.

In some states the differences are stark. In Pennsylvania, per-pupil spending in the poorest school districts is 33 percent lower than per-pupil spending in the wealthiest school districts. In Vermont, the differential is 18 percent; in Missouri, 17 percent.

Nationwide, states and localities are spending an average of 15 percent less per pupil in the poorest school districts (where average spending is $9,270 per child) than they are in the most affluent (where average spending is $10,721 per child).

“What it says very clearly is that we have, in many places, school systems that are separate and unequal,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an interview. “Money by itself is never the only answer, but giving kids who start out already behind in life, giving them less resources is unconscionable, and it’s far too common….”

See how spending differs between the nation’s poorest and most affluent school districts.                          http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/03/12/in-23-states-richer-school-districts-get-more-local-funding-than-poorer-districts/#graphic

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/03/12/in-23-states-richer-school-districts-get-more-local-funding-than-poorer-districts/

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.

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University of Texas Center for Brain Health study: Cognitive training can improve poor students performance

30 Dec

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/
Rebecca Klein of Huffington posted in the article, This Is What Could Close The Achievement Gap Among Young Kids, Study Says:

Just a few years of high-quality early childhood education could close the academic achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, a new study suggests.
The study, conducted by two university professors, analyzed previous data from a now-defunct program that offered free preschool to students from different social backgrounds.
Using this data, the researchers found that after providing low-income children with quality preschool early in life, the kids had the same IQs as their wealthier peers by age… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/07/preschool-achievement-gap_n_4556916.html

A King’s College study is intriguing because it points to the value of early cognitive stimulation. See, Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence, study shows   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140818204114.htm

Science Daily reported in the article, Cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty:

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In a paper published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers for the first time examine the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

“Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty can shape the wiring and even physical dimensions of a young child’s brain, with negative effects on language, learning and attention,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of the Center for Brain Health’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative and assistant research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. “What this work shows is that there is hope for students in poverty to catch up with their peers not living in poverty.”

The research team studied 913 middle school students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, accounting for any diagnosed medical or learning differences. Five hundred and fifty six students received the cognitive intervention and 357 served as a comparison group. The protocol included pre- and post-training assessments, in which all adolescents were asked to read several texts and then craft a high-level summary, drawing upon inferences to transform ideas into novel, generalized statements, and recall important facts. For the 556 students who received the Center for BrainHealth-developed cognitive training called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training), they completed 10 45-minute sessions over a one-month period. The SMART program was provided by research clinicians and consists of hierarchical cognitive processes that are explained and practiced through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities using student instructional manuals.

“Much focus has been put on early childhood learning and brain development — and for good reason,” said Dr. Gamino. “However, extensive frontal lobe development and pruning occurs during adolescence making middle school a prime opportunity to impact cognitive brain health.”

“Existing studies show that a large percentage of students in middle school are not developing inferential thinking entering high school,” explained Dr. Gamino. “The cognitive gains demonstrated after short-term, intensive training in this research suggest that middle school is an appropriate and beneficial time to teach students strategies to enhance understanding and the ability to infer global meanings from information beyond the explicit facts.”

Cognitive tests indicate that students living in poverty showed as much as a 25% increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstracted meaning from information presented, after training, comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line. Additionally, the SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18% improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted in training….

Findings revealed gender differences among the students studied as well. Seventh and eighth grade girls showed significant improvement after receiving the SMART program, as did 8th grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic level. After training, 7th grade boys showed improvement in fact retention but not gist reasoning.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210080748.htm

Citation:

Cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty

Date:         December 10, 2014

 Source:     Center for Brain Health

Summary:

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers who, for the first time, examined the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

Here is the press release from the University Texas Center for Brain Health:

Study shows cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty

By: The Center for Brain Health

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In a paper published today in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers for the first time examine the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

“Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty can shape the wiring and even physical dimensions of a young child’s brain, with negative effects on language, learning and attention,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of the Center for BrainHealth’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative and assistant research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. “What this work shows is that there is hope for students in poverty to catch up with their peers not living in poverty.”

The research team studied 913 middle school students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, accounting for any diagnosed medical or learning differences. Five hundred and fifty six students received the cognitive intervention and 357 served as a comparison group. The protocol included pre- and post-training assessments, in which all adolescents were asked to read several texts and then craft a high-level summary, drawing upon inferences to transform ideas into novel, generalized statements, and recall important facts. For the 556 students who received the Center for BrainHealth-developed cognitive training called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training), they completed 10 45-minute sessions over a one-month period. The SMART program was provided by research clinicians and consists of hierarchical cognitive processes that are explained and practiced through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities using student instructional manuals.

“Much focus has been put on early childhood learning and brain development – and for good reason,” said Dr. Gamino. “However, extensive frontal lobe development and pruning occurs during adolescence making middle school a prime opportunity to impact cognitive brain health.”

“Existing studies show that a large percentage of students in middle school are not developing inferential thinking entering high school,” explained Dr. Gamino. “The cognitive gains demonstrated after short-term, intensive training in this research suggest that middle school is an appropriate and beneficial time to teach students strategies to enhance understanding and the ability to infer global meanings from information beyond the explicit facts.”

Cognitive tests indicate that students living in poverty showed as much as a 25% increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstracted meaning from information presented, after training, comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line. Additionally, the SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18% improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted in training.

“The ability to use inference to abstract meaning from incoming information as trained in the SMART program is a skill crucial to future life success and applies to both academic and informal learning activities such as reading a school assignment, listening and taking notes from a lecture, watching a movie or television program, or having a conversation with a friend,” Dr. Gamino continued.

Findings revealed gender differences among the students studied as well. Seventh and eighth grade girls showed significant improvement after receiving the SMART program, as did 8th grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic level. After training, 7th grade boys showed improvement in fact retention but not gist reasoning.

The Center for Brain Health’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative has provided training to more than 300 teachers and 30,000 teens across the country. The research team is planning to expand their study to determine if cognitive training closes the academic achievement gap by conducting longitudinal research and comparing standardized test scores.

The research was funded by the State of Texas, The AT&T Foundation, The Meadows Foundation and The Pickens Foundation.

http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-shows-cognitive-training-can-improve-brain-performance-of-students-in?utm_source=BrainHealth+Breakthrough+12.09.2014+Brain+Training+and+Socioeconomic+Status&utm_campaign=BHBT+12.09.14&utm_medium=email

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Related:

What is the Educare preschool model?                                                                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/what-is-the-educare-preschool-model/

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