More Maslow!

Per this recent post on Maslow’s hierarchy in education and how it impacts efforts to close low-performing schools, here’s a new study in Education Next looking at a related issue. Researchers Brian A. Jacob and Lars Lefgren examined preferences for teacher selection in a “midsized school district that asked to remain anonymous, in the western United States.” Here’s the punchline:

Are test scores the educational outcomes that parents value most? We tackle this question by examining the types of teachers that parents request for their elementary school children. We find that, on average, parents strongly prefer teachers whom principals describe as best able to promote student satisfaction, though parents also value teacher ability to improve student academics. These aggregate effects, however, mask striking differences across schools. Parents in high-poverty schools strongly value a teacher’s ability to raise student achievement and appear indifferent to student satisfaction. In wealthier schools the results are reversed: parents most value a teacher’s ability to keep students happy. [emph. added]

It’s just one study, but a methodologically creative way to try to examine this issue. And, if you believe that schooling is more important for low-income students than more affluent ones in terms of gaining knowledge, social capital, etc…then these results make sense and reinforce that a Maslow’s hierarchy is in play.

As a matter of politics, this is also something to consider. No Child Left Behind has a strong bias toward teaching content. Yet the parents who seem to want that are less active in the political process (electoral and governmental politics) than other parents. Sort of a conundrum…or an opportunity for candidates…

This also reminds me of Lisa Delpit.

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