"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, May 28, 2022



Warren Burger became Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court under the first presidential term of Richard Nixon, who was, up until that time, the most conservative president in U. S. history.  Chief Justice Burger retired in 1986, and in 1991 he weighed in on the Second Amendment and how the firearms lobby has used it "to perpetrate the biggest fraud on the American people" that he had seen in his lifetime.

Another conservative Associate Justice, nominated to the bench by Nixon and nominated to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford, believed that Second Amendment needs to be amended or repealed.  He believed that policy regarding firearms should be a legislative decision.

It is way past time to stop the marching for background checks and "red flag" laws and to commit to the abolition of the Second Amendment. Until that happens, American public schools (not the private ones where the wealthy send their kids) will continue to serve as slaughterhouses for mass murderers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Reading "Research" Presents More Questions Than Answers

Stephen Krashen recently noted that a "group called The74’s posted an outrageous but slick-looking column":  “Curriculum case study: How grade-level literacy doubled in just two months in a rural Tennessee District.” 

Dr. Krashen posted this comment following the propaganda piece:

Some questions and a comment


“Grade level literacy doubled in just two months”  meant that in the beginning of the year, seven first graders were reading at “grade level” and two months later 15 were. Thus, the spectacular headline is based on the improvement of only eight children.  What about the other children?


The usual definition of grade level is the 50th percentile. Did children move from the 49th to the 51st percentile or from the 5th to the 95th? We have no idea.


We also don’t know what kind of tests were used.  We are told only that it is based on the district’s “universal screener.” It has been established that instruction based on the “science of reading” involves heavy phonics. Studies show that heavy phonics results in better pronunciation of words  presented on a list but not in improved comprehension.

Only one case history is provided, a first grader who was “really behind and is now writing stories.” Is she the only one? 

Strong claims about “unprecedented rates of reading growth” should be made of sterner stuff. 


Stephen Krashen

Prof Emeritus, University of Southern California


The effect of heavy phonics: 

Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74. https://tinyurl.com/jc6x8mk

Friday, May 20, 2022

Make the School Day Longer?


Make the School Day Longer?            

Stephen Krashen.   (skrashen@yahoo.com)

Language Magazine May 2022, p.13



            Will extra time in school help children make up for instruction lost because of the pandemic? The research is not encouraging: Studies show that extending school time has no effect or a very small effect  on learning (Patall, Cooper,and Allen, 2010; Kidron and Lindsay, 2014). Blad (2022) noted that one elementary school in Atlanta had positive effects by adding 30-minutes to the school day, but the school made extraordinary efforts, e.g. two adults in every classroom, tracking, and ongoing analysis of test scores. 

            Increasing instruction time by increasing homework is clearly not the answer. In fact, homework may not help at all. Based on his review of the research, Kohn (2007) concluded that  “… there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school.  At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied.“

            I suggest we try a different path: Decrease school pressure and encourage pleasure reading. 

            In Stanovich and Cunningham (1993), college students who were more familiar with popular literature did better on a variety of tests of subject matter, including science, social studies, technology, and cultural knowledge, suggesting that those who read more, know more. In fact, familiarity with popular literature (including books and magazines but not TV) was a better predictor of performance on subject matter tests than high school grades. Of great interest is that those familiar with popular literature knew more about practical matters as well, knowledge relevant to everyday living, e.g. how a carburetor works, how many teaspoons are equivalent to a tablespoon.

            It is reasonable to hypothesize that knowledge we absorb from reading that we select ourselves lasts longer than what we learn from study. This was Plato’s view: “Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.”

            Let’s try providing more access to interesting reading material by investing more in libraries and librarians, and let’s try giving young people more time to read for pleasure by reducing homework. As Kohn (2006) has pointed out, “authentic reading is one the casualties of homework” (p.175). 



Blad, E.  2022.“Why schools see extra time as the solution for making up for lost instruction.” https://www.edweek.org/leadership/why-schools-see-extra-time-as-the-solution-to-making-up-for-lost-instruction/2022/03

Kidron, Y. and Lindsay J. 2014. The effects of increased learning time on student academic and nonacademic outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs. 

Kohn, A. 2006. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

Kohn, A. 2007. Rethinking Homework. https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/rethinking-homework/2007

Patall, E., Cooper, H. and Allen, A. 2010. Extending the School Day or School Year: A Systematic Review of Research (1985–2009). Review of Educational Research 80(3):401–436. DOI: 10.3102/0034654310377086 

Stanovich, K. and Cunningham, A.  1993. Where does knowledge come from? Journal of Educational Psychology. 85, 2: 211-229.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

New Study Reveals School Racial and Economic Segregation

 NEW STUDY: First-Of-Its-Kind Analysis Reveals Widespread Racial, Economic Segregation In U.S. Schools, Ranks Most Segregated Cities

Six decades after Brown v. Board, segregation between Black and white students remains very severe in 10 percent of metro areas, significant in others

The most severely racially and economically segregated metro areas include New York City, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Newark

(New York, NY) — More than six decades after Brown v. Board, many students across the country still attend schools that are heavily segregated, both racially and economically. A new, first-of-its-kind analysis, published today by The Century Foundation, provides a uniquely detailed look at the current state of school segregation across all U.S. metropolitan areas. The results are alarming: segregation is still persistent across the country and our biggest metropolitan areas see particularly high rates of segregation between Black and white students, and between those who are lower-income and more affluent. 

Accompanying the study is a new tool, produced in partnership with the Segregation Index, led by Ann Owens from the University of Southern California and Sean Reardon from Stanford University, that allows users to dig into just how severe segregation is in their area—and what causes are behind it. The School Segregation Data Dashboard, also published today, includes data from public and private schools in all 403 metropolitan areas across the country, presented in an interactive map that shows local segregation levels as well as larger trends across the country.

“While it’s no secret that many students still experience segregation within their schools, the severity of that segregation in many metropolitan areas is shocking, and should prompt policymakers to act,” said Halley Potter, TCF senior fellow and the study’s author. “Data is essential for addressing such a pervasive problem, and what we’ve learned from this new analysis is that segregation looks very different in New York than it does in California, and in every area in between. This level of data allows us not only to better understand the causes of segregation in certain areas, but also to determine how best to address it.”

TCF’s analysis measures segregation by race and ethnicity, as well as by income, using the variance ratio segregation index, which allows researchers to compare the difference between two groups of students in their exposure to students from one of the groups. For example, a variance ratio of zero for Black-white segregation means that every school in that area would have the exact same racial composition, and a measure of one means that Black and white students would be totally isolated. “Very severe” segregation exists, in terms of this study, in areas with variance ratios larger than 0.5, meaning they are closer to being entirely segregated than entirely integrated. 

Key findings from the study include:

National Trends

  • Metro areas have particularly high levels of segregation between Black and white students 

    • In 10 percent of all metro areas, Black-white segregation levels are “very severe” (variance ratios higher than 0.5), meaning schools are closer to being entirely segregated than to fully integrated

  • Segregation levels between white students and students of other races are less stark, but still significant across the country 

    • On average, the difference between the percentage of white students at the average white student’s school and at the average non-white student’s school in the same area is 21 percentage points

  • Economic segregation is also widespread, and students of color (Black students in particular) have higher average rates of poverty

    • The rate of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch is 16 percentage points higher at the average Black student’s school than the average white student’s school in the same metro area

  • School segregation is most extreme in the Northeast, where both racial and economic segregation are more pronounced

    • Segregation between school districts causes much of this regional segregation, and is the largest driver of segregation nationally 

Cities and Metro Areas with Most Severe Segregation

  • The New York City and Milwaukee metropolitan areas stand out as especially segregated 

    • The study includes six lists of the 10 most segregated areas across six types of segregation

    • New York City and Milwaukee appear in the ten most segregated areas on two-thirds of these lists 

  • Chicago, Newark, and Philadelphia also have high levels of segregation across many groups, appearing on half of the most segregated lists

    • Boston, Detroit, Oakland, and Los Angeles, among others, come in behind these cities, and rank among the top ten most segregated areas by several metrics

  • Segregation of different racial groups of students varies across the country

    • Detroit has the highest levels of segregation between white and all non-white students

    • Milwaukee has the highest levels of school segregation among Black and white students, while Philadelphia is most segregated between Hispanic and white students

    • California is home to the most segregated schools between White and Asian students (Napa) and white and American Indian students (El Centro)

    • The Newark area has the highest levels of economic segregation 

“These findings point to many different types, and severities, of segregation across our country, but they also reveal something essential for policymakers: much of our country’s segregation is driven by segregation between school districts,” said Ann Owens, associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California and one of the leaders of the Segregation Index. “Solving this problem is particularly complex, as it will require conversations at all levels of government. Local leaders within a district have few tools to address segregation across district lines on their own—leadership to address interdistrict segregation must come from the state or federal level.”

While interdistrict segregation is the largest driver of segregation, and most prevalent in the Northeast and Midwest, other factors, such as segregation within districts and among private and charter schools, also contribute to segregation. The report and interactive map reveal the complex realities of segregation in U.S. schools, and should prompt policymakers at all levels of government to take action.


The Century Foundation (TCF) is a progressive, independent think tank that conducts research, develops solutions, and drives policy change to make people’s lives better. We pursue economic, racial, and gender equity in education, health care, and work, and promote U.S. foreign policy that fosters international cooperation, peace, and security. TCF is based in New York, with an office in Washington, D.C. Follow the organization on Twitter at @TCFdotorg and learn more at www.tcf.org.

McKenzie Maxson (she/her/hers)
Press Secretary
The Century Foundation
2000 M Street NW, 7th Floor, Washington DC 20036
C: 937.789.4606 @mckenziemmaxson