Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Income Inequality

An article at CNS News offers some dismal statistics about the state of education in America's cities. In Detroit for example,
Ninety six percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading. Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading.
Why is this? Is it because not enough money is being spent on education? Evidently not:
This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student.

According to data published by the Detroit Public Schools, the school district’s operating expenses in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 amounted to approximately $14,743 per student.
The depressing statistics are only marginally better nationwide, but they're especially bad in urban districts. Less than fifty percent of eighth grade students in twenty one major cities are proficient in reading:

In reading, the Cleveland public schools were next to last among the large urban school districts with only 11 percent scoring proficient or better. Baltimore and Fresno were tied for third worst with only 13 percent scoring proficient or better; and Philadelphia ranked fifth worst with only 16 percent scoring proficient or better.

The Cleveland public schools also ranked next to last in math, with only 9 percent of eight graders scoring proficient or better. Baltimore and Fresno were also tied for third worst in math, with only 12 percent scoring proficient or better; and Los Angeles ranked fifth worst with 15 percent scoring proficient or better in math.
When so few young people are able to do basic math and read well those youngsters face a very bleak future. They're poorly prepared to enter a workforce that requires basic intellectual skills in order to succeed economically. It's simply common-sense that those with reading and math competency are going to command higher incomes than those whose education suits them for little more than manual labor, and that the gap between the educated and the uneducated is going to grow wider as society becomes less dependent upon manual labor and more dependent upon technical skill. This education gap is the proximal cause of the income gap that distresses so many observers.

But why are so many of these kids failing? Are their schools terrible? Are their families and neighborhoods chaotic? Are they unmotivated and uneducable? Or is it some combination of these? Whatever the case, when Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton complain about income inequality they should be asked why their party, which runs every one of these cities, and has controlled them for fifty years, hasn't been able to fix the problem, and why we should think that electing them would make things any better.