All Articles Education Updates Extra Credit: Parents’ rights, the rural divide and the economy-wrecking education decline

Extra Credit: Parents’ rights, the rural divide and the economy-wrecking education decline

Is the parents’ rights movement harming students? Does your district do ability assessments? Read about these and more in Extra Credit.

4 min read


rural highway

Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

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The rural divide. Students in rural America are less likely than those in suburban and urban areas to continue education after high school — which is a substantial problem, given that more US students go to school in rural areas than “the combined total of the nation’s 85 largest school districts,” Nichole Dobo writes. Meanwhile, children in rural areas of Michigan have just as low a chance of upward mobility as children in Detroit, Michigan State University education professor David Arsen writes.

cover of graphic novel "Maus"
(“Maus” is one of many books swept up in recent school book bans. Image credit: Maro Siranosian/AFP via Getty Images)

Parents’ rights run amok. Self-proclaimed parents’ rights organizations … have turned their backs on time-honored modes of dialogue and partnership between parents and schools,” Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer of PEN America, writes. It’s fine for parents to choose private or homeschooling to “impart an individual belief system to children,” but public schools are “designed to serve entire communities and general interests,” and it’s not OK for a group of parents to “insist that public school curricula and libraries be remade to match those predilections,” Nossel asserts, adding that “these tactics also risk denying and defeating children’s own sense of educational and intellectual agency.”

How the US educational decline is tanking America. A “great [global] reshuffling of educational and economic heft” means China will soon knock the US out of its first-place spot in college-educated workers, and India is only a couple of decades away from displacing the US from its soon-to-be second-place ranking. This educational “stagnation” is limiting economic growth and slowly stripping the US of its “economic, political and military heft,” Nicholas Eberstadt and Evan Abramsky of the American Enterprise Institute write. “If Americans treated education as if their future depended on it, they would look for far-reaching overhauls, not marginal changes, and they would look beyond teachers’ unions and university administrators for better ideas.  …  To avoid squandering its educational edge and putting its position of global primacy at risk, however, Washington must acknowledge that education is no longer just a domestic policy issue but a national security issue on which the very future of the United States depends.”

Why test students on facts and answers isn’t enough. Standardized tests offer one, often skewed, reflection of a student. An ability assessment — which measures quantitative, verbal and nonverbal reasoning — shows where students are strong and where they need growth. “Teachers can leverage ability data alongside achievement test results to identify gaps between a student’s potential and performance. If a child performs really well on an ability test but not as well on an achievement exam, that disparity can suggest what type of support that student needs,” writes Anna Houseman, a former elementary school teacher and regional assessment director, who shares ways some districts are using them.

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Diane Benson Harrington is an education writer at SmartBrief. Reach out to her via email, Twitter or LinkedIn

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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