Poor School Parents vs. Affluent School Parents
Pnnonline.org recently reported that parents’ educational values differ depending on the financial poverty of the school:
When it comes to teachers, what do parents value most — high student test scores or the ability to keep students satisfied? The answer depends in part on what kind of school you go to, according to a new study in the summer issue of Education Next.
According to economists Brian A. Jacob of the University of Michigan and Lars Lefgren of Brigham Young University, parents in high-poverty schools strongly value a teacher’s ability to raise student achievement and appear less concerned about student satisfaction. In more-affluent schools the results are reversed: parents most value a teacher’s ability to keep students happy.
“Our findings suggest that what parents want from school is likely to depend on the educational context in which they find themselves,” Jacob and Lefgren write. In low-income schools where academic resources are scarcer, motivated parents are more likely to request teachers based on their perceived ability to improve academic achievement. On the other hand, in higher-income schools parents seem to respond to the relative abundance of academic resources by seeking out teachers who also increase student satisfaction. This may reflect parental preferences for having their children enjoy school, Jacob and Lefgren speculate, or parental preferences for teachers who emphasize academic facets that increase student satisfaction but are not captured by standardized test scores, such as critical thinking and curiosity.
While interesting, I see the findings as unsurprising. Of course, schools with limited resources need teachers that can do the most with the least. In contrast, rich schools have an overabundance of resources, so they concern themselves with pacifying and satisfying their rich students, who have a reputation for pseudo-rebellion and attitude problems (i.e. stuck up and picky).