Monday, November 28, 2011

Money is Magic!

by Gary Baker

An article in the Pasadena Star News has solved the mystery of poor performance in education. The secret is money, or, as the article frames it, the family income. Using modest scholarship, the state has gathered statistics correlating the California Academic Performance Index (API) against a number of factors. The test provides the state with a measurement of student advancement in math and reading. Family income was gauged indirectly by using the percentage of students in state schools that qualified for free and reduced price lunches. Other factors compared included class size, percentage of English Language learners, teacher salary, and per pupil spending. 

The article could be a textbook example of confusing causation and correlation. With the correlation firmly shown by the graphics, the “experts” launch into the accepted reasons why the poor do not do as well as the better off, citing poor health care, less time for study, lower parent involvement, etc. What is never mentioned aloud, certainly by no one in the field of education, is the factor of heredity. It would seem as though it is inconceivable that parents who tend toward success give their children similar traits. 

All of which brings us back to the acceptable answer: magic. Just as it was never the work and talent required for a rigorous degree, but the degree itself that conveyed success, so too with family income. I wonder if there is a plan anywhere to perform a study similar to the one California just undertook that added a measure of parent IQ into the mix. That would be a study that I would pay to see.

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