It’s been a busy week with the publication of an op-ed by me and Rick Hess in the Wall Street Journal and a study in Education Next documenting the monolithic partisan composition of education reform advocates and those who conduct research on those efforts. One might think that folks committed to evidence-based decision-making would be very interested in facts about their field, but their social media response has generally been counter-productive and fact-free. Those responses have focused on how they are not to blame, how Republicans are icky anyway, and how many of their best friends are Republicans. I’m not bothering to link to those responses because there really is no point. If folks are happy with a uniformly Democratic movement, then they are welcome to keep it… as long as someone continues to be willing to pay for this party. Given the groupthink and political ineffectiveness that is likely to result from this lack of heterodoxy, I can only wonder why and for how long funders will subsidize it.
Lost in the shuffle of this busy week, some graduate students and I released two new studies of the medium-term effects of students receiving multiple arts-focused field trips to the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. We randomly assigned school groups to a treatment that involved three field trips per year to visit an art museum, see live theater, and listen to the symphony, or to a control condition. Among the treated students, some received 3 experiences over 1 year and some received 6 experiences over 2 years.
We split the analyses into two separate reports. The first, led by Heidi Holmes Erickson, found that these arts-focused field trips improved school engagement, as measured by disciplinary infractions and survey responses, as well as increased standardized test scores in math and reading. These benefits persisted even one year after treatment ended for the first cohort in the study.
The second study, led by Angela Watson, examined social-emotional outcomes. It found that exposure to multiple arts-focused field trips increased social perspective taking and tolerance. It also found evidence of an improvement among treated female students in their conscientiousness, as measured by survey effort.
Heidi and Angela will be presenting these results at the Association for Education Finance and Policy conference next week. Please attend their sessions to learn more about this research and to provide suggestions for improving their papers. And if folks at AEFP are also interested in engaging in a productive discussion of how to improve the intellectual and ideological diversity of the organization, that would also be wonderful.
Given the groupthink and political ineffectiveness that is likely to result from this lack of heterodoxy, I can only wonder why and for how long funders will subsidize it.
There is no problem discerning the “why.” This is a matter of quasi-religious identity and purity for the funders. Identity and purity are more important to people than effectiveness, and in principle they should be; I would not deny Christ or look at porn to enact an ESA program (not even a universal one). Whether one ought to allow political affiliation to play this quasi-religious role is of course another question.
The Democratic Party (or any party) is a pretty poor god to worship.
Given the overwhelming capture of education reform by the left on the political spectrum, reformers who hold to old-fashioned values may feel hopeless! It seems that a whole political landscape is being imposed through education-system instruments and outside the democratic framework. (That is great research by Jay Greene and Frederick Hess.) And exits and choices are progressively becoming limited. Something should happen in the here and now, in our lifetimes, and, more importantly, in the lifetimes of school children.
Without going into much background as a parent advocate I now believe that if the basic principles of a good school were followed schools could improve (if needed) on a school-by-school basis. Here is where the work of Ron Edmonds on the effective schools checklist should be brought forward from the 80s.
The magazine “researchED” has this article by Karin Chenoweth https://researched.org.uk/reviving-research-on-effective-schools/, which calls for “Reviving research on effective schools”.
Now, there’s a bit of a problem. Going to Wikipedia for Ron Edmonds, unfortunately, it mentions only 6 of his famous principles. I followed the articles and research on this topic and saw how it was developing. The list grew to 7 items, then finally 8 items. It was #8 (Avoidance of Pitfalls) that at some stage, as faddishness beset schools, Edmonds observed was the most important. My list, which I circulated amongst parent groups, is here:
What I’m hoping is that JPG blog readers might agree with me about the urgency of getting this checklist out into the field. Secondly, that someone might correct the Wikipedia entry to include the 8 points and add to the list of references.
I apologize, as an independent parent advocate, I do not have the wherewithal for these tasks but hope someone in this audience might undertake this noble calling.
[…] Source: New Arts Studies Lost in Busy Week | Jay P. Greene’s Blog […]
A further thought about this upon reflection: The response to these data savors strongly of bad conscience. If people in this field felt highly confident about their own and their peers’ adherence to high standards of scientific responsibility in their education research, these data about their partisan donations would not provoke rancor. If it were shown that all mathematicians were Democrats, the response would not be “how dare you!” but rather “so what?” Because mathematicians are not nursing repressed doubts about whether they are compromising their math to favor Democrats.
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