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Impoverished Kids or Impoverished Researchers?

Posted By: Dick Schutz on August 19, 2005
Berliner joins Rothstein and a number of other prominent individuals at the top of the Ed chain in diverting attention from the matter of instructing kids to larger matters that let the educational research community off the hook to continue to go about their merry way. The argument also excuses the school community, and teachers and kids are left to cope not only with the multi-hundred pound gorilla, but with a whole zoo of such critters (to use Dave’s metaphor.) Meanwhile, politics and economics rule.

The merits of income redistribution are not news. Neither are the correlational data that Dave cites. And the anecdotal descriptions are gut-wrenching. But none of this provides a basis for the contention that “improvement in the school achievement of students from low income families will have to come as much from improvements in their outside-of-school lives as from their inside-of school lives.” That inference is the basic Post-Hoc, Propter-Hoc fallacy of extracting causal determinants from correlational relationships.

Kids are not reliably being taught to read across the SES/ethnic gamut, even acknowledging the disparities that Dave focuses on. They’re dropping out of high school in droves. These are clear and present considerations that are impinging upon the current generation of kids and teachers. These are not intractable matters. Far from it. “Fixes” are readily available—a few minutes thought and a look at products/ protocols that have been around for several decades would do the trick. But the educational research community appears “very resistant to change” and to borrow Dave’s metaphors happy to stick with looking for their keys in the bright light or concluding that they don’t really need a car, but a better transportation system that would preclude the need to look at all.

An alternative to consider is that the “problem” is not in our stars, but within us in the ed research community.

Dick Schutz
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 Impoverished Kids or Impoverished Researchers? by Dick Schutz on August 19, 2005
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