Education Week - January 22, 2014 - (Page 25)

schools, destinations to which just 6 percent of low-achieving 8th graders even apply. It's not dastardly discrimination, but stratified routes of market demand, that act to reinforce segregation. Black and Latino parents rationally bid for schools displaying stronger results than the campuses closest to home. Yet their first-choice schools still perform far below the top picks of their white and Asian-American counterparts, as detailed by scholars Sean Corcoran and Henry Levin in a 2010 study. Proximity and familiarity work against equitable demand for robust schools. Almost a third of poor parents bid for high schools receiving a C, D, or F on the city's quality ruler, compared with one-sixth of better-off parents. Persisting segregation then undercuts progress in closing achievement gaps. One-half of the city's lowest-achieving youths attend a racially isolated high school, where more than 90 percent of enrollees are black or Latino. Just onefourth of all other students do, according to Mr. Kemple of the Research Alliance. White and Asian-American youths remain one-third more likely to earn a Regents diploma, compared with their black and brown peers. So, while small schools lift the achievement ladder a few inches, racially isolated youths remain at the bottom rung. The segregating effects of local school markets beset other cities as well. My research in Los Angeles found middle-class enclaves, whether white or Latino, that convert their regular campuses into charter schools, now free to rebuff any incursion by low-income families. And it's the social class of parents, not their race, that stratifies enrollment demand. White students migrating to small charter schools generally have higher reading scores and better-off parents, compared with their poorer white peers left behind, segregating effects observed across four cities in a 2009 RAND study. The Obama administration turns a deaf ear to the isolating effects of unchecked markets. The president has told the nation's governors to lift caps on charter schools, whether they boost achievement or not. "Integration must be voluntary," U.S. Secretary of Educa- tion Arne Duncan said last year in a radio interview. "You can't force these kinds of things." So, how can local leaders build from the success of small schools, while inculcating poor youths with the rigorous expectations that teachers press on middle-class students? Otherwise, the isolation of low achievers from stronger peers-no matter how shiny or inventive their small or PAGE 26 > BRUCE FULLER is a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of the forthcoming book, Beyond State and Market (University of Chicago Press). " A spate of recent findings reveals a dark side to Mr. Bloomberg's faith in pint-size schools: Many serve to calcify the segregation of students along lines of race and class." Don't Underestimate the Power of Pleasure Reading By Jeffrey D. Wilhelm & Michael W. Smith A unfortunate truth is that we still had states with graduation rates in the 70 percent and 60 percent ranges for Latino and black students, respectively, and even lower for Native students. According to the NCES, in 2007-08, an estimated 1.7 million students graduated from high school needing remedial courses in basic math and English to prepare them for college-level classes. That's why we're committed at the Campaign for High School Equity to pressing for the common standards and the supporting curricula, as well as advocating for the teacher training and resources required to close the achievement gap, once and for all. We welcome the healthy debate that an endeavor this large should spark in a democratic society. But we can't allow narrow special interests, or the politicians beholden to them, to lower educational standards for students already shortchanged by the system. And we will not stand by while common-core opponents spread myths or deliberate falsehoods in order to defeat or delay them. These standards are not a panacea. We know that translating the common standards into curricula, meaningful teaching, learning, and accountability will take a lot of hard work. This move to more rigorous standards may mean we see lower student test scores for a time as the curricula are implemented for all grade levels. But if we are to make sure every student is college- and career-ready, this work is essential. The anniversary of the Brown decision provides us with an opportunity to measure our progress in the subsequent decades and to ensure this nation's continued commitment to bring every student to a higher plane of educational expectation and excellence. This is our duty, in our time, yet it is rooted in the same compelling truth that then-attorney Thurgood Marshall voiced when he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, "There is no way you can repay lost school years." n RUFINA HERNÁNDEZ is the executive director of the Washington-based Campaign for High School Equity. recent study by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano of The New School for Social Research in New York City argues that reading literary fic- tion (as compared with reading popular fiction, or nothing at all) temporarily enhances one's ability to understand others' mental states and deepens empathy. The study-published in the journal Science in October-grabbed a lot of attention, including a front-page article in The New York Times. What makes the claim noteworthy is its scientific support. After all, the notion that reading literature has a civilizing impact has been with us at least since Matthew Arnold wrote on literary criticism in the late 1800s. And the idea that literary fiction is superior to popular fiction has been around for an equally long time. Indeed, the charge so often leveled at mass-produced literature is that it is not simply bad, nor even worthless, but that it is "capable of degrading, indeed, of corrupting those who enjoy it," as literary and cultural studies scholar Janice A. Radway sums up the critique in a 1986 essay. That argument may be a long-standing one, but our recent study of the secret reading lives of young people convinces us that it is wrong. The young people who explained to us why they read what they read recognized that their parents and their teachers often looked askance at their [the students'] reading choices. Yet the students were remarkably articulate about the benefits they derived from their reading. Here's 18-year-old Kylie talking about her reading love affair with romances: "And you see the good [in romances], but also the possibilities in others, despite their shortcomings, because the hero has to be helped, transformed in some way. And you do, too, really, so the book helps you think about this and consider it." Here's Kennie, also 18, talking about the impact of her vampire books: "Being a teenager is partly about struggling to be more adult and have more adult relationships. ... I think a real struggle of more adult relationships is making sure they are life-giving in both directions. I mean, we all have these needs so you have to be careful about not being a vampire and sucking someone else dry, or hurting and discarding them. But you have to be really careful not to let someone do it to you, too, like dominate you, just because you like being liked or feeling attractive or whatever. I think it's a real danger." And here's Helen, 14, on the fantasy novels that she devoured: "Sometimes when big stuff happens in my life, I'll think about what my favorite characters would have done, the ones I admire most. ... They all have different approaches, different ways they approach things, and then I try to apply that to my life, to see which way works for me. Characters are just ways of thinking, really." We received similar testimonials from readers of horror and dystopian fiction as well, two genres that are characteristically dismissed as "popular." We'd stack the powerful and long-lasting benefits of the reading our participants did against the temporary impact found in the New School study-any day! But there is more at stake here. Kidd and Castano report that their participants enjoyed literature less than they did popular fiction. Reading literature then becomes something like taking codliver oil: You might not like it, but it's good for you. The danger is that dismissing pleasure as unimportant runs afoul of a remarkable new analysis done as part of the British Cohort Study, which is following the lives of more than 17,000 people born in England, Scotland, and Wales in a single week of 1970. " Reading for pleasure outside of school has real and long-lasting benefits." A recent report making use of the data from that study found that children's reading for pleasure outside school had a significant impact on their educational attainment and social mobility. Moreover, it found that this impact is a function of what the researchers termed "increased cognitive progress over time." Reading for pleasure outside of school has real and long-lasting benefits. The research from the British Cohort Study seems to us to create a policy imperative to encourage students' out-of-school reading-regardless of which genres and authors they choose. If teachers and parents are to pursue a policy of supporting and encouraging the pleasure reading of young people, they must develop a deep understanding of its nature and varieties. They must avoid dismissing the reading kids like to do in the hope that kids will read something "better." Adults should listen hard to the wisdom of young readers of marginalized texts, who, as they read these texts, are deepening their understanding of themselves in the world and expanding the possibilities of who they might become. n JEFFREY D. WILHELM is a professor of English education and the director of the Boise State Writing Project at Boise State University, in Idaho. MICHAEL W. SMITH is associate dean of faculty development and academic affairs in the college of education at Temple University, in Philadelphia. They are the authors, with Sharon Fransen, of Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want-and Why We Should Let Them (Scholastic Teaching Resources, December 2013). EDUCATION WEEK | January 22, 2014 | | 25

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 22, 2014

Education Week - January 22, 2014
50 Years Later, Verdicts Are Mixed On the Nation’s War on Poverty
A K-12 Titan in Congress to Move On
Fla. Pushes Longer Day With More Reading In Struggling Schools
Personal Danger of Data Breaches Prompts Action
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Funds to End For Little Rock Desegregation
Union, District Clash in Pittsburgh Over Teacher Evaluation
Revised GED Ushers in New Era With More Testing Competition
In Five States, Districts Bail Out on Race to the Top Grants
K-12 Publishing, Ed-Tech Markets Experiencing Rising Revenues
Blogs of the Week
Still Segregated After 50 Years: A Visit To Cincinnati’s West End
Among States, Spending Gaps Have Widened
Spending Plan Aims to Relieve Some K-12 ‘Sequester’ Pain
Calif. Transgender Law Takes Effect In Schools, Amid Efforts to Repeal It
State of the States
Wash. Governor Pledges School Aid Boost
BRUCE FULLER: Is Small Beautiful? New York’s tiny high schools lift kids, harden segregation
RUFINA HERNÁNDEZ: A Common Cause for the Common Core
JEFFREY D. WILHELM & MICHAEL W. SMITH: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Pleasure Reading
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
XU ZHAO, HELEN HASTE, & ROBERT L. SELMAN: Questionable Lessons From China’s Recent History of Education Reform

Education Week - January 22, 2014