The report is long on lofty goals and short on credible ideas how to achieve those goals.
The coalition's main plan is -- wait for it -- that schools serving minority populations need more funding because they are underfunded.
Why are there such blatant inequities in the distribution of education opportunities in America? One key problem is that many high-poverty schools, which predominately serve students of color, lack the funding and resources of wealthier schools and districts. A recent report noted that in thirty-one of forty-nine states studied, school districts with the highest minority enrollments received fewer resources than districts with the lowest number of minorities enrolled (Carey 2004). Another study determined that in schools where at least 75 percent of the students were low-income, there were three times as many uncertified or out-of-field teachers teaching English and science than there were in wealthier schools (Wirt et al. 2004).
Last I checked, warmed-over Marxism does not have a long history of success, yet it always seems to get trotted out front and center by organizations like this. However, that's not the main fault of this suggestion. The main fault is that it is almost categorically untrue that schools that serve minority populations have less funding than the average school district. Schools that serve high minority populations are typically found in big cities and big city schools are some of the most well-funded schools in the state. About the only schools that are funded better than big city schools are schools in the wealthiest of suburbs. This is a red herring, because there is no correlation between instructional spending and student achievement. Here's a plot of those variables for Pennsylvania's 501 school districts.
Notice how R2 is 0.0101. That indicates that the correlation is random. The scatter plot shows that pretty clearly when instructional expenditures are between $4000 and $7000. Then we see a somewhat odd phenomenon when instructional expenditures are over $7000, representing funding at about the 95th percentile. At this high level of funding you see two distinct trends.
The first is an offshoot of highly funded schools that perform above the regression line. These are your wealthy suburban school districts. The second offshoot is the highly funded schools that perform below the regression line. These are your big city schools. Notice how increased funding has not resulted in superior academic performance for these schools at all.
Increased funding is not the answer to the woes of schools serving minority and low-income populations.
The report also suggests that academic achievement can be increased by attracting better teachers. That's problematic as well and I'll save that discussion for a future post.
The report also lists a bunch of vague bromides, lacking specifics and any indicia that enacting such bromides have been successful in the past. But that's pretty much it. More money and non-specific bromides are the answer to our education woes. Why do these organizations even bother?