by Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.
This summer, Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Dan Lips and I published an article in the journal Education Next explaining why a student’s race, ethnicity or family income are not accurate predictors of their future academic success. We were very pleased when the Chancellor of New York City Schools, Joel Klein wrote a letter in response to the article.
Here is an excerpt from Klein’s letter:
In “Demography as Destiny?” (features, Summer 2009), Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips argue that Florida’s reforms–school accountability, literacy enhancement, student accountability, teacher quality, and school choice–have helped students there achieve record academic success. Florida’s results support school-focused reform strategies, such as those we’ve implemented in New York City. New York City’s progress in narrowing the achievement gap confirms that policymakers and advocates can no longer use demographic factors like race, ethnicity, income, or zip code to excuse differences in educational achievement between high- and low-needs students…We still have a long way to go, but it’s clear that even the most disadvantaged students can achieve at high levels when provided with a strong education.
It’s time for leaders across America to stop making excuses for low student performance. As Florida and New York City demonstrate, we can offer all students, regardless of their backgrounds, the educational opportunity they need and deserve.
Joel I. Klein
New York City Schools Chancellor
Klein led the Clinton administration’s anti-trust action against Microsoft and currently heads the nation’s largest school district. Teacher’s unions and other anti-reform groups face a growing and philosophically diverse array of critics who will not accept the sorry state of American schools. Liberals, conservatives and libertarians can all agree: Getting better results for the amount of money this country spends on education is critical for America’s future. Increasing parental choice is a key ingredient to an overall K-12 improvement strategy, and has growing support among the entire political spectrum.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute.