Behind the Headline: Some Cities Are Making Great Strides In Educating Low-Income Students

On Top of the News
Some Cities Are Making Great Strides In Educating Low-Income Students
Huffington Post | 3/22/2016

Behind the Headline
Our Achievement Gap Mania
Education Next blog| 9/26/11

ednext-ototh-march16-orlandoA new report from Education Cities and GreatSchools identifies cities that are doing a better job than others at reducing the achievement gap between rich and poor students.

Hialeah, Florida; Gilbert, Arizona; and Miami topped the list of cities with the smallest achievement gaps. Major cities like New York and San Francisco also scored in the top 10. Cities like Omaha, Nebraska; Denver; and Norfolk, Virginia have seen the greatest gains for low-income students over the past few years. 

However, as Rebecca Klein writes in Huffington Post,

Most of the report’s results are disheartening. Only two in 10 low-income students from big cities go to schools where they perform near or on par with affluent students. Over 60 of the country’s largest cities have what the report classifies as “massive” achievement gaps. Over the past several years, the achievement gap has grown or stagnated in most cities. 

On the Education Next blog, Rick Hess has challenged the view of those who believe that education reform today should focus on narrowing achievement gaps above all else.

Such sentiments are admirable. And it’d be hard to argue that any of this is bad on its own terms. The legacy of achievement gap mania isn’t necessarily undesirable. Focusing on the neediest students is admirable, as far as it goes. With limited time, talent, and resources, we can’t do everything–and it’s not unreasonable that some think our priority in every case should be the most in need.

The real problem has been the unwillingness of gap-closers to acknowledge the costs of their agenda or its implications. And yet, the groupthink consensus that the business of education is “closing achievement gaps” has made it tough to talk honestly about the costs–for fear of being branded a racist or thought unconcerned with inequities. It has dreadfully narrowed the potential coalition for reform. It has distorted the way we’ve approached educational choice, accountability, and reform. It has warped and retarded the pace, reach, and power of school improvement efforts. And it has yielded a stifling and ultimately troubling vision of schooling.

— Education Next

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College