“Credit recovery courses” and education inequality

Inequality. Mostly it’s inequality of opportunity. Which comes down to inequality of education. America’s real and growing gap is between the better educated and the less educated who earn much less. And children from poor and minority families get crappier education. That’s America’s great scandal.

High school graduation rates are a focus. What’s the fate of a poor/minority kid without even a high school diploma? Yet we tolerate this for millions.

But graduation rates, especially in poor/minority districts, have been rising. Good news? Not so fast. The Economist recently reported that many districts have responded to the pressure to improve graduation rates by simply lowering standards, to hand out more diplomas.

A big part of this is online credit recovery courses — which students can take via computer if they fail a class. One source estimates they’re now used by 69% of U.S. high schools. Especially in poor/minority areas.

Good in theory perhaps; but in The Economist’s telling, in practice this is often a fudge to change a failing grade into a passing one. It’s “all about manipulating the system,” one teacher is quoted. Students can repeat online exams — with the same questions — until they pass. “Most teachers just gave the students the answers.”

The Economist does note in passing “some pockets of real success high-performing charters in cities have helped many poor minority students most at risk of dropping out if left in traditional public schools.” Yet most “progressives” continue demonizing charter schools as “draining” funds from the public education they venerate. Seemingly blind to the rotten public schooling at the heart of the inequality they so loudly bemoan.

2 Responses to ““Credit recovery courses” and education inequality”

  1. Lee Says:

    I don’t have cold hard facts to back me up, but my intuition says that charter school test scores come from a misunderstood cause. Every kid at a charter school (or at a fully public magnet school) is there because a parent had the time and resources to research schools and to switch the kid from the default school. It does not matter which school these parents send their kids to, typically the kids will do fine regardless because these kids have parents with the necessary time and resources. The kids who don’t have these parents end up going to the default (public) schools, never to the charter schools, and this is what brings down the test averages at the default schools.

    I understand that there are many who claim that teachers’ unions somehow ruin teachers and that that is the difference, but I don’t buy it.

    On the other hand, the “draining funds from public education” is easy to document. In New York, it is my understanding that the charter schools get paid the average amount that the public school district spends per student despite that the charter schools don’t take on the harder to educate kids (see above) nor, in many cases, the special needs kids, etc. Furthermore, the public schools have the additional responsibility of having to educate every student that walks through their doors, even when the number of students, is quite difficult to predict — because charter schools can open and close unexpectedly. Being responsible for handling unexpected hundreds of extra kids, but instead getting hundreds of fewer kids … is quite difficult to do with financial efficiency. My kids’ middle school had to take on 100 extra kids per grade starting September 2016, and it was evident.

  2. petersironwood Says:

    Inequality of educational opportunity is bad for everyone. Yet, it is quite intentional. https://petersironwood.com/2019/09/10/essays-on-america-the-game/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s