Are good schools "Not as Good as You Think?"
Affluence is supposed to equal education, right? After all, parents all over the country scrimp and save to purchase houses above their means, believing that access to education depends on zip code. An interesting study out challenges that perception.

Marin County, CA, for example, has the highest per capita income of any zip code and the highest density of BMWs in America. You would think that the public schools, with all the advantages of wealth, would be able to consistently educate the children of these professionals. But statistics at San Marin High School are a little troubling, considering the obvious advantages these children should have:
  • Less than half of 10th and 11th graders scored at or above proficiency level on the California Standards Test (CST) English exam.
  • Only 38% of students taking the CST algebra 1 exam scored at or above proficiency.
  • Less than half of students taking the CST algebra 2 exam scored at or above proficiency.
  • 82% of parents went to college but only 23% of kids passed the EAP college-ready exam.
If you are paying $758,000 for a house, you might expect scores to be a little higher. (More interesting tid bits in the Pacific Research Institute's Buyer's Guide).

Most people seem to question our education system as a whole, yet maintain that their local school is good. Most people also seem to think that the solution to education problems is increased funding and teacher certification. Neither seem to be helping schools in the middle class and affluent neighborhoods included in the study.

What is going on?

I am tempted to say that busy executives in two income households have completely abdicated their role as parents, leaving it over to the school district. After all, previous studies have already found that the single greatest indicator of school success is not wealth.
Parental involvement in their child's literacy practices is a more powerful force than other family background variables, such as social class, family size and level of parental education (Flouri & Buchanan, 2004). The Importance of Parental Involvement (pdf)
That alone explains the success of homeschooling. And gives rise to concern over just how much of parenthood can be outsourced. Or turned over to the television set.

Hat Tip: