Another day, another gripe about the failure of the common schools to inculcate the habits of the middle class, which I contend is a major source of the unequal labor market incomes the Concerned fret about.  Here's Daniel Luzer, in The Washington Monthly, with the usual sort of fretting.
Indeed, education performance doesn’t always track income directly, but there’s probably something here. How many more different education reforms do we have to try, and find wanting, before we figure out it might be time to address inequality?
It's not about Common Core or bilingual education or student-centeredness or any of the other usual fads. Adverse selection in the labor market is often driven by the lack of those bourgeois skills.  Another Daniel Luzer essay notes that the government schools exist to serve the poor, and that's who they serve.

Graphic based on Southern Education Foundation research retrieved from Washington Monthly.

Here's Mr Luzer's assessment of the challenge facing the government schools. "And with trends indicating more and more public schools in America are composed of poor kids, the future of school reform is really all about how this country will educate its poor." It cuts two ways.  To the extent that the government schools are increasingly dominated by low income students, the government schools likely are going to have fewer pupils who have acquired the life management skills of the middle class at home.  And schools full of that sort of student are not likely to be attractive to parents who would like school to reinforce those life management skills.  Thus, the high-achieving schools are likely to be private, or government schools in neighborhoods with lots of granite counter-tops.

Meanwhile, the failure of the government schools to inculcate either academic or life management skills bites their graduates.
When Wal-Mart opened on the West Side [of Chicago] in 2006, it had 17,000 applicants to choose from. It had committed to hire from the troubled neighborhood. Its managers had worked in urban environments. In some cases, though not all, the challenge was harder than Wal-Mart expected. Some applicants lacked basic reading, writing and math skills. Lapses in public transit and child care meant that even associates eager to work weren't showing up. Attitudes toward work were a problem too: When income tax refund checks arrived, providing cash to pay bills for a time, some employees never showed up again. Workers had to be taught how to make a good public impression by dressing appropriately and speaking politely.
The people who object to excessive testing and Common Core and the rest of the deaducational fads are almost surely correct.  But there's more damage being done to young people in rough neighborhoods by well-meaning, self-despising multiculturalists who let the bad habits slide under some lunatic notion of authenticity.

Here's Joanne Jacobs.  Disorder hurts low-income strivers.  Current Enlightened Policy seeks to achieve "suspension equity" (or something similarly silly) and that makes it more difficult for the youngsters who would like to, oh, learn something, achieve their goals.  Current Enlightened Policy is wrong.

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