Yearning for Earnings

The post below is by guest blogger, Mike Goldstein.

1. Let’s briefly revisit Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer’s excellent July 2016 paper.  They found (among other things) that kids who attended No Excuses charter schools in Texas didn’t have appreciably higher earnings later in life.

Those of us who support these schools should “wrestle” with that result.

2. The paper led to good online discussion.

The 74 here, for example, and Inside Philanthropy here.

I was struck in particular by Neerav’s two blogs over at Relinquishment.

First he wrote this.

But a week later he wrote this.

When a study tells you what you don’t want to hear, the first reaction is often to not deal with it (in some ways I did this in my previous post).

So everyone in education reform needs to deal with this potential reality: there is some possibility that the best that education reform has to offer can only, on average, move a student from 16K to 18K a year.  

Of course, this is only one study of one state. We don’t yet know if these numbers will hold under different contexts, methodologies, or timeframes.

But, at the very least, your belief that a great school can radically increase wages should be a little lower after reading this study.

It’s rare that any of us manage to notice how our brains automatically spin news to fit our beliefs.  I know I struggle with that.  So: zen move by Neerav to overcome that heuristic, and rethink.

3. I’ve recently spoken to a few researchers in early stages of more such studies.  Yay.  Faster please!

4. You may recall that KIPP laudably began to publish it’s college graduation rate some years ago.  Currently 44%.  That was a bold move.  Until then most charters, including the one where I worked, only put out % of kids heading off to college.

That data point led to KIPP inventing new ways to boost college success.    See here for Picayune series last week (hat tip Joanne Jacobs).

5. Match Charter High in Boston (*I’m on board) stumbled into the earnings issue this way:

a. A red-headed founding teacher from 2000, Bob Hill, became college counselor circa 2011.  (He’d taught every single grad til then).

b. At that time, something like 54% of Match grads had earned college degrees.  Bob stayed in touch with the “other 46%.”

The Boston Globe caught up with Bob earlier this year.

“College wasn’t always a good fit,” Hill says. “The Monday through Friday, the set schedule. That got me thinking, what are our other options? Is there a way to be more flexible?”

c. The result was a new program, called Match Beyond.  It’s an effort to take an existing option (the online, inexpensive College For America); make it more accessible for someone in mid-20s and older to “restart” via tutoring; then helping them re-enter the labor market with a higher-paying job.

6. My modest proposal: that CMOs band together to measure their grads’ earnings.  (And maybe other stuff.  Voting.  Happiness.  Health.  Net Worth [including college loans]).

Top CMOs, in particular, react to data.

Transparent earnings data would steer these CMOs towards some healthy introspection, and then innovation, helping more of their students grow up to escape poverty.

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