New Building Blocks in Education

Education correlates with income.  Using Ted Rosling’s wonderful Gapminder program I’ve created a graph showing showing how adult literacy correlates with income around the world.

If you want to see these trends change over time (my chart only shows the situation for 2007), try this interactive animation of the data.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2010, which I’ve charted below, show how income varies with education in the United States.
There is a reinforcing (and unfortunate) symmetry to these data.  Lack of education leads to economic hardship, which leads to a lack of educational opportunity.  ProPublica, the non-partisan, investigative news organization, recently completed a nation-wide study that showed that “poverty [is] the predominant factor in determining the proportion of students in a school or district who were enrolled in higher-level education [such as Advanced Placement courses].”
Can this circle by unbroken?  By and by, let me list two reasons to be hopeful.
College Summit, a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit, works with high schools by providing tools and helping shape their culture to increase the rate at which bright, college-ready students understand that college is even an opportunity for them, and then take advantage of their opportunities.  As the organization reports, “students from the low-income quartile who get get A’s on standardized tests go to college at the same rate as their higher income peers who get D’s on the same tests.”  But with support from College Summit, things are turning around:  Participants enroll in college 22% more than non-participants.  Seven hundred teachers and staff members are trained every year, providing opportunities to 25,000 students.
The Preuss School , a combination middle school and high school, provides a rigorous, college-prep experience.  It strives to produce students who are accepted at selective four-year colleges.  To achieve its aims, it uses a combination of pedagogy (including tutor-assisted teaching), high tech, and high expectations.  Teacher salaries are about 10 percent below the district and state averages.  The school enrolls 6th through 9th graders who must be motivated and have the potential to succeed academically.  
Most unusually, they must come from poor families (with incomes of no more than 185% of the poverty level; for instance, under $40,793 for a family of four), and their parents or guardians can not be college graduates.  
By 10th grade, approximately nine students in ten is “proficient” or “advanced” in both math and English/language arts, in contrast to half that many at the district and state levels.  By graduation, 100 percent of students meet all state and local graduation requirements, including California’s state exit exams in math and English/language arts.  Nine-five percent are accepted to college.  
For  its accomplishments, Newsweek rated Preuss School the country’s thirty-fourth best high school, and the number one “Miracle,” or “Transformative,” high school.

Want other examples of transformation and hope?  Then watch the 80’s movie Stand and Deliver about an East math teacher who took “can’t make it” students and taught them calculus.  Or read about the extraordinary teacher, Marva Collins.

Or bookmark this blog and keep checking back.  I’ll be presenting other examples, just as persuasive as these, to indicate other ways to change the educational lives of young people, and thus their futures.


PLUS stay updated with news and tips from my latest book, Becoming a Social Entrepreneur: Starting Out, Scaling Up, Staying True, which explores lessons learned from more than 100 social entrepreneurs. 
Learn how to create social impact in these trying times.

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