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education

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Parents: you’ll find a note soon in your child’s backpack. Or maybe you’ll get a phone call.  A gentle reminder from your child’s teacher that it’s time for parent-teacher conferences.

And, you’ll make the time to sit down some evening to talk. It’s just one of the ways schools and teachers try to keep parents involved in children’s education.

But some parents have a harder time staying involved than others. Not because they don’t want to, or because they don’t care. Often, their work schedule just doesn’t allow it.

This story by The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb is great not only because it expertly chronicles the demise of what was once an academically excellent school in Queens, NY, but also because Cobb takes a deeper look at what really happens to a community when a school closes. Schools are so much more than just a place to learn. For many kids who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, school can also be a place to network; a place to help launch the students out of their current situations. Take the school away and what do you have left? One less opportunity for an at-risk youth to network their way out of poverty.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Brian Whiston is the new guy in town at the Michigan Department of Education, and it looks like he's got poverty on the brain. Whiston and the state Board of Ed early this week convened a group of folks from around the state to share their ideas for how to improve academic outcomes for all students, especially those in poverty.

Our friends at WBEZ partnered with the daily herald for an analysis of 10 years' worth of Illinois elementary school test score data. What they found is a relentless, strong correlation between test scores and parent income. Schools with the most students living in poverty had the lowest test scores, and vice versa. The correlation between test scores and parental income held for every income group, and it remained very consistent over time. Click through to see the graphs.

flickr.com/jeremywilburn

Last October, the Harvard Business Review published an essay on Hacking Tech's Diversity Problem.

user alamosbasement / flickr

America is becoming less equal.

That much is now widely acknowledged.

But what can be done to improve things for the next generation?

We’ve been doing this work on State of Opportunity for nearly three years now. If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over about how to help kids get ahead, it’s this: Education is the key.

"Once you’ve made it to college and graduated, your social mobility opportunities are great," said Fabian Pfeffer.

"Putting people into more post-secondary education would strongly promote their mobility," said Erin Currier.

"We’re talking about producing skills," said James Heckman. "Skills are the core of the modern economy."

If you want a good job, you have to have skills. If you want skills, you have to have education. That’s pretty uncontroversial.

But then I came across the work of this guy:

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Teaching is a political act. That's what Grand Valley State University professor Amy Masko believes. 

"What we choose to talk about in schools and what we choose to avoid or not talk about sends a message about power," says Masko, an associate professor of English education who specializes in race, poverty and schooling.

Washington Post

Jennifer Guerra and Dustin Dwyer are both working on stories about low income kids and college. 

Is how we talk about race worth talking about?

Oct 10, 2014
Barnaby Wasson / Flickr

Browsing the comments on Facebook in response to Dustin Dwyer’s piece on race makes it clear we are all over the map on how we talk about race. Some tread lightly around these issues and things like privilege and oppression. Others believe racism doesn’t exist anymore. And some people don’t like talking about it at all.

How much of this depends on how we are taught to talk about race?

Tamar Charney

I crossed and uncrossed my legs for the tenth time in a minute. I bounced my foot. I even stood at the back of the room. I was fidgety, foggy brained, completely fatigued, and there were still hours to go until we were finished.

After 40-some odd trips around the sun, I should know I can't skip my morning workout and still expect to function well in a daylong meeting.

As the meeting droned on, and my fidgeting got worse and worse, my thoughts snapped back to a conversation I had with a school-aged boy I know.

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