In “The Opportunity Atlas: Childhood Roots of Social Mobility
” (June 2019), Raj Chetty describes research that rates neighborhoods on the opportunities for upward mobility they offer children who grow up there.
One insight is that studying places with the best outcomes for low-income children may allow us to “replicate the successes in other places through place-focused investments.” Another insight is that some neighborhoods offer “opportunity bargains,” affordable neighborhoods that produce good outcomes for children.
It strikes me that local public schools may play A LARGE ROLE
in providing opportunity bargains to families precisely because they are well-positioned to provide place-focused investments. I suspect that most people feel they have a good grasp on which neighborhoods could benefit from focused investment. But to gain accuracy and have a TRULY DATA-DRIVEN INVESTMENT STRATEGY
, school districts will need to geocode their student records. Districts then can use a geographic information system to combine the place information with demographic data, academic achievement measures, attendance, data on disciplinary action and any other relevant information to yield actionable insights.
SUSAN M. MCMILLAN
SENIOR STATISTICIAN AND RESEARCHER,
EDUCATIONAL DATA SYSTEMS,
MORGAN HILL, CALIF.
Our Bubble-Wrapped Kids
Thank you for publishing Lenore Skenazy’s excellent piece, “Lost Learning: The Age of Bubble-Wrapped Kids
,” in your June issue. This article should be required reading for all parents. In fact, with Skenazy’s permission, I sent her essay to my e-mail list of parents and patrons in my school district.
Furthermore, I investigated the LetGrow.org website and plan to highly encourage teachers in our elementary school to take part in the Let Grow project this school year. The essay and project reinforced my belief in the need for far less over-parenting and much time away from screens. Parents need to let their kids be kids by allowing them some independence to discover the great outdoors and other ambitions that will foster confidence and creativity.
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 209,
College Track Reconsidered
Kudos to Dan Domenech for putting on the table the need to take another look at our national commitment to college for all in his Executive Perspective column (“Economic Reconsideration of the College Track
,” June 2019).
A group of us just returned from Germany and the Czech Republic, where vocational training and apprenticeships are highly regarded educational routes. We gathered that about 50 percent of high school graduates in Germany come through a dual vocational education and training program involving paid apprenticeships. The U.S. Department of Education reports that just 2 percent of American students are enrolled in vocational schools, while U.S. businesses complain about their inability to hire skilled employees.
Meanwhile, half of the American students who enroll in a four-year university program seem lucky to graduate in six years. Forty percent of recent four-year college graduates are underemployed, and the amount of student debt exceeds debt carried by all Americans on credit cards.
There’s something wrong with this picture.
NATIONAL SUPERINTENDENTS ROUNDTABLE,