Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Education Report

Today the The Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American Progress released a research study on education policy and family behaviors and what this means in terms of America's ability to remain competitive in the global economy. 

The report, The Competition that Really Matters, is 108 pages long and I didn't read all of it but skimmed through over half of it, and read through the press release that accompanied the email announcing the report.  I skimmed the chapters focusing on American education; the other chapters looked at the educational policy of India and China.  Personally I am somewhat skeptical of the accuracy of statistics coming out of those countries (no offense to India and China).  The US chapters were really interesting.  For instance, parental involvement in classroom activities correlates to higher grades, higher education achievements, and higher income.  Parents with higher income are more likely to be involved in their children's schools.

Participation in early childhood learning (pre-school) correlates to higher parental income, higher grades, higher earnings, etc.  So do teenage work activities (job shadowing, internships, etc).  The report ties this to government policy, such as parental leave.  It also looks at teacher quality and examines the progress other countries (Finland and Germany are examples) have made in this regard.  Finland made it harder to become a teacher, raised their social status, and gave them more autonomy.  Student test scores went up (teacher salaries did not).  There are also comparisons to other country's policies on child care subsidies.

Parents can improve their children's educational achievement by providing access to learning aids such as dictionaries, creating a quiet study space, and being involved in their children's schools.  Money and flexible work hours are very helpful with these endeavors. 

There is a local connection here -- one of the report authors is Donna Cooper, a former Pennsylvania cabinet secretary and one time deputy mayor of Philadelphia.

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