"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Schools Need Adults

"For every seven adults a neighborhood adds, one fewer young person leaves school", Jonathan F. Zaff and Thomas Malone conclude in their paper, "Who’s Minding the Neighborhood?". It is a correlation they find after comparing a neighborhood's school dropout rate and the adult to youth ratio. This correlation is not surprising since children generally need both support and guidance. Developing nations like the Philippines currently have a "young population". A young population of course correlates with serious challenges in basic education as resources, teachers, and other necessary inputs are stretched to their limits. What is remarkable is such correlation is still found at a more granular level. 

Above copied from Community Commons
Above are maps for Kansas City and its suburbs. The first map is colored according to the percentage of young people not enrolled in school and not employed. Reddish brown and red are for 15 percent and higher while yellow is for under 5 percent. The second map, likewise of the same region, is colored according to the adults to youth ratio. The darker shades of blue are for districts that have 4 or more adults per youth. Comparing these two maps, it is obvious that dark colored regions do not overlap. Thus, at this level, one can still easily see the correlation between having less adults per youth and the percentage of out-of-school youth. 

These vividly bring before our eyes one of the major challenges basic education faces in developing countries like the Philippines. Drawing higher standards for learning, revising curriculum, adding years to basic education, administering standardized tests, and adopting merit pays for teachers are among the favorite means by which school systems try to improve education. Unfortunately, all of these measures evidently do not address the problem of simply not having enough the support or guidance our children need because there are too many children per adult.

This is simply one of the many instances that plainly demonstrate that major challenges education systems face are often outside the school. 



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