Next Stop Education
Recently, Roland Fryer – economist, NYC Public Schools’ Chief Equity Officer, and the public’s latest cat’s meow, was on the Colbert Report (video below) discussing his incentives program. The program has been the subject of much debate, acclaim and most importantly visibility. The interview is brief, a little funny, but reminded me that our discussion of education remains far too short sighted. Not only does Fryer still make troubling statements in jest like, “It’s not racism, it’s reality”, which reminds me of something I would expect Herrnstein and Murray respond to discussions of the Bell Curve as racist. He openly admits that the effects for his incentive program are unknown. While the program narrowly focuses on improvement in achievement through incentives such as cash, I wonder what are the “spill over” effects on children and families psychologically and socially. Considering Claude Steele’s body of work on stereotype threat, there are a myriad of potential negative outcomes, but also what happens when we reinforce the model of child “as breadwinner” in homes with meager resources. I guess we’ll have to see the experiments results and I hope Fryer and NYCPS have made accommodations to test the “spill-over” issues among families … though I have a sneaking suspicion they have not. More commentary under the video.
Yesterday the NYTimes published a piece entitled “Uncertainty on Obama Education Plans” about Barack Obama’s upcoming cabinet choice for Secretary of Education. While people have been foaming at the mouth about appointments in defense, treasury, etc. education once again has been floating well beneath the radar. As I’ve discussed before, education, in my opinion, received far too little attention in the presidential campaign and is one of the most consequential policy issues because it deals literally with the future leaders of the USA. The article mentions names like Linda Darling-Hammond (professor at Stanford), Joel Klein (chancellor of nycps), Michelle Rhee (chancellor of dcps), and Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America) have been batted around as potential Secretary of Education choices. Discussing these folks would warrant an entire post, so I won’t right now. Maybe I’ll spin something off for TheRoot.com. At the least, I will be following up this week with issues that are going to remain crucial in the ed field regardless of who the appointee is. Check back soon.
Hattip to Blacksmtyhe for putting me up on the Fryer video