Chapter 8
Public School Partnerships: Community, Family, and School Factors in Determining Child Outcomes1

REBECCA MAYNARD WITH MEREDITH KELSEY

The University of Pennsylvania

Public-private partnerships are now widely advocated as keys to successful educational reforms. The nature of such partnerships and their objectives vary widely, depending on which symptoms of school failure are of greatest concern—for example, low school completion rates, poor employment prospects and earnings levels of high school graduates, inadequate postsecondary education and training, low rates of school preparedness of 5 year olds, or early family formation.

Although the concept of partnerships to improve educational outcomes is gaining momentum, partnerships for this purpose are not new. The preparation of young people for the transition to adulthood has been the product of public-private partnerships, albeit generally informal ones, since the advent of public education. Families, communities, schools, and children themselves have been instrumental in defining the inputs to education, the processes through which formal education occurs, and the application of and rewards for the products of the educational process during adulthood. The current emphasis on formal partnerships is being fueled by mounting evidence that our education system is failing to keep pace with changes in the economy that have increased the skill requirements for jobs at all levels, even low-paying jobs. Moreover, it is failing to produce young adults who can maintain or improve on the social welfare of their parents and, in the aggregate, the nation.

This chapter explores one of the avenues for improving the operations and effectiveness of our schools that was highlighted in a recent report of the Panel on

1  

Research assistance for this paper was provided by Dan McGrath.



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--> Chapter 8 Public School Partnerships: Community, Family, and School Factors in Determining Child Outcomes1 REBECCA MAYNARD WITH MEREDITH KELSEY The University of Pennsylvania Public-private partnerships are now widely advocated as keys to successful educational reforms. The nature of such partnerships and their objectives vary widely, depending on which symptoms of school failure are of greatest concern—for example, low school completion rates, poor employment prospects and earnings levels of high school graduates, inadequate postsecondary education and training, low rates of school preparedness of 5 year olds, or early family formation. Although the concept of partnerships to improve educational outcomes is gaining momentum, partnerships for this purpose are not new. The preparation of young people for the transition to adulthood has been the product of public-private partnerships, albeit generally informal ones, since the advent of public education. Families, communities, schools, and children themselves have been instrumental in defining the inputs to education, the processes through which formal education occurs, and the application of and rewards for the products of the educational process during adulthood. The current emphasis on formal partnerships is being fueled by mounting evidence that our education system is failing to keep pace with changes in the economy that have increased the skill requirements for jobs at all levels, even low-paying jobs. Moreover, it is failing to produce young adults who can maintain or improve on the social welfare of their parents and, in the aggregate, the nation. This chapter explores one of the avenues for improving the operations and effectiveness of our schools that was highlighted in a recent report of the Panel on 1   Research assistance for this paper was provided by Dan McGrath.

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--> the Economics of Education and Reform—building stronger and more responsive partnerships (Hanushek, 1994). The chapter examines the role of partnerships in the context of what is known about relationships among the community, families, and schools in determining the educational outcomes and economic prospects of children. We first discuss evidence of the failure of the current system and its largely informal partnerships to successfully meet the educational needs of young people. The social policy issues are then framed in the context of a general model of the causes and consequences of various child outcomes. The third section describes trends in schools, families, and communities that are relevant to child outcomes and discusses policy options for mitigating those circumstances that adversely affect the chances that children will experience success in school and beyond. The final section reflects on a variety of strategies for building on the strengths of various partnerships in the education process. Evidence of Weak or Failing Partnerships By some measures, the American education system is holding its own. For example, dropout rates have stabilized and measured skills of graduates have remained fairly constant. By other measures, though, the system is failing not only the children it serves but also society at large. Most notably, the employment productivity (measured by real wages) of the majority of youth coming out of schools today is falling. Youth also are experiencing higher rates of single parenthood, divorce, poverty and welfare dependence, and crimes against them. Indicators of Stable or Improving School Performance In the aggregate, school performance has continued to improve with respect to some objectives—enrolling more children, keeping youths in school through the full 12 years of program study, and preparing young people for postsecondary education and training options. School participation rates have continued to rise, dropout rates have fallen, Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores have remained stable (controlling for demographic shifts in the test-taking population), and increasing numbers of young people are enrolling in postsecondary education or training. Our country's school system also has succeeded in extending the formal education process to younger ages for increasing numbers of children. Whereas in 1970 only 38 percent of 3 to 5 year olds were enrolled in preschool programs, by 1990 the figure had increased to nearly 60 percent (Table 8.1). In part, this trend is accounted for by the rapid rise in labor force participation of women with young children (Hayes et al., 1990; Zill and Nord, 1994). It also reflects expansions in Head Start and pre-K programs intended as "jump-start" initiatives for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The proportion of 14 to 17 year olds enrolled in school has remained fairly stable over this period, in the range of 90 to 94 percent (Table 8.1). However, increasing proportions of young people are completing high school by the time

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--> TABLE 8.1 Trends in Student Outcomes, by Year   1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 %Change, 1970–1990 % Change, 1975–1990 Percentage of 3 to 5 year olds in preschool 38 49 53 55 59 55.3 — Percentage of 14 to 17 year olds in school 92 91 90 92 94 2.2 — Percentage of 17 year olds who graduated high school 77 74 71 72 72 -6.5 — Percentage of dropouts among 16 to 24 year olds 15 14 14 13 12 -20.0 — White, non-Hispanics 13 11 11 10 9 — -30.8 Black, non-Hispanics 28 23 19 15 13 — -53.6 Hispanics — 29 35 28 32 — 10.3 SAT verbal scores 455 431 424 431 422 — -7.3 Whites — 451 442 449 442 — -2.0 Blacks — 332 330 346 353 — 6.0 Mexican-Americans — 371 372 382 380 — 2.4 Percentage of high school graduates enrolled in college 52 51 49 58 60 15.4 —   Source: Digest of Educational Statistics, 1993, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

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--> they reach young adulthood. In 1990, 12 percent of all 16 to 24 year olds had dropped out of school prior to attaining a high school degree, down from 15 percent in 1970. Moreover, the large disparity in school dropout rates between white and black youths was reduced by 73 percent over this period. The proportion of black youth who failed to complete high school fell by over 50 percent—from 28 to 13 percent—while the proportion of white youth ages 16 to 24 who neither were attending nor had completed school declined from 13 to 9 percent. In part, this trend toward higher high school completion rates reflects the institution of alternative educational opportunities within the regular secondary education system and through alternative credentialing options, principally the General Educational Development (GED) certificate. 2 Despite mounting evidence that many of today's youth are not well prepared for the demands of our changing economy, the educational achievement of young people has been fairly steady over the past 20 years. Performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, for example, has been fairly stable among all age groups. Moreover, there has been some improvement in math and science performance by children from lower socioeconomic groups relative to other students (NCES, 1994, Tables 12–18).3 Although there has been considerable concern about declining average scores on the SAT (Haveman and Wolfe, 1994), the average performance remained stable or increased slightly among all racial/ethnic groups, except whites (Table 8.1). What has driven the trends in averages is primarily a shift in the composition of the population taking the SAT. Over the past 20 years, increasing proportions of youth from minority racial/ethnic groups, who have substantially lower average scores than white youth, have entered the pool of test-takers. Perhaps the most encouraging trend has been the increasing rates of participation in postsecondary education, especially in the past 10 years. Between 1980 and 1990, the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college, including two-year community colleges and vocational schools, increased 22 percent from 49 to 60 percent (Table 8.1). This increase is especially noteworthy given the strong association between postsecondary education and improved economic opportunities and the ability to better handle adverse social outcomes (Haveman and Wolfe, 1994; McLanahan and Sandefur, 1994). Increased Educational Investments and Attention to School Improvement Over this same period, the proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to education has fluctuated between 6.5 percent and 7.8 percent, with the low point being in the mid-1980s (NCES, 1993a, Table 33). The share of the 2   In 1990, 287,000 youths under the age of 24 earned a GED, compared with only 182,000 in 1970 (NCES, 1993a, Table 100). 3   Average proficiency scores of children whose parents did not complete high school lag 10 to 15 percent below those of children whose parents completed more than high school (NCES, 1994).

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--> GDP that was devoted to elementary and secondary education in 1990 was 6 percent lower than in 1970 (4.5 vs. 4.8 percent), and the share devoted to higher education has increased 14 percent (2.7 to 3.1 percent). As a result of the 68 percent expansion of the overall U.S. economy, from $2.9 trillion to $4.9 trillion, real aggregate resources devoted to education increased 60 percent. Considering that there was a 15 percent decline in the student population over this period, real resources per pupil increased even more.4 This increase in resources came, in large part, from states and localities. Indeed, the federal government's share of total expenditures for education declined from 11 to 8 percent of the total between 1975 and 1990, while state and local shares increased from 58 to 62 percent and private funding increased from 22 to 29 percent of the total (NCES, 1993a, Table 35).5 These increased aggregate expenditures have been allocated in a variety of ways intended to improve educational outcomes. For example, per-pupil expenditures increased 81 percent in real terms between 1970 and 1990, from $3,079 to $5,570 in 1992 dollars (Table 8.2). Much of the increase in expenditures was devoted to lowering the average size of classes and to higher real wages for teachers. For example, over this period, the average pupil-teacher ratio decreased 22 percent, from 20 to 17, and average teacher salaries increased by 6 percent in real terms, from $33,000 to $35,000.6 In addition, substantial resources have been channeled into providing special services for children with learning differences or for nonacademic programs. At the same time that the public has been increasing its financial investments in education, it has also been demanding continual improvements in the system. Some of these efforts have been in response to poor outcomes in the schools. Many others have been stimulated by a desire to keep up with technology and changes in the social and economic climate (Fuhrman et al., 1993; Committee for Economic Development, 1994). The reform movement has been directed at a variety of objectives—improving math and science education, promoting parental involvement, making better use of technology, improving teacher and staff performance, developing a curriculum that better reflects the demands of today's and tomorrow's economy, and linking school with the labor force. The Heart of Public Concern The high level of attention focused on schools derives from two sources. First, the stable and positive trends in educational inputs and outputs mask enor 4   Between 1970 and 1990 the student population declined from 52 to 54 million (NCES, 1993a, Table 41). 5   The increase in private funding is due to an increase in the share of private funding for higher education, from 49 to 58 percent of all expenditures over the period 1975 to 1990 (NCES, 1993a, Table 35). 6   One study suggests that 20 to 25 percent of the substantial cross-district variation in teacher salaries is due to ability/skill differences among teachers (Berliner, 1993).

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--> TABLE 8.2 Trends in Educational Investments, by Year   1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 % Change, 1970–1990 Expenditures for elementary and secondary schools (%GDP)   4.7 4.1 4.0 4.5 -6.3 Expenditures per pupil (1992–1993 $) $3,079 $3,755 $4,171 $4,676 $5,570 80.9 Average pupil-teacher ratio in public elementary and secondary schools 22 20 19 18 17 -22.8 Average teacher salary (1992–1993 $) $33,000 $32,000 $29,000 $31,000 $35,000 6.1   SOURCE: Digest of Educational Statistics, 1993, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

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--> mous and increasing variation across population subgroups, communities, and schools. Second, the youth coming out of the American secondary education system today, particularly those who do not attend college, face diminishing economic prospects. Although nationally only 12 percent of 16 to 24 year olds are classified as school dropouts, the rate is 13 percent among blacks and 32 percent among Hispanics. Moreover, Hispanics have not contributed to the decline in the dropout rate over the past 20 years. There also are large differences in educational achievement among racial/ethnic groups with comparable years of education. For example, only 5 to 6 percent of black and Hispanic 9 year olds are able to search for information, relate ideas, and generalize from them, in contrast to 18 percent of 9 year olds nationwide (NCES, 1993a, Table 108). Although the proficiencies of all students improve as they get older, the 10 to 15 percent gap in scores between whites and other youth persists through high school, as do the gaps between youths whose parents have various levels of educational achievement (Kirsch and Jungeblut, 1986; Kirsch et al., 1993; NCES, 1993a). Across communities there is substantial variation among those with different socioeconomic characteristics. For example, whereas nationally less than 15 percent of youths fail to complete high school, the dropout rate in urban areas often exceeds 50 percent. The proficiency levels of students also vary considerably, with reading proficiency scores in disadvantaged communities averaging 10 percent less than those in more advantaged urban communities (NCES, 1993a, Table 105). These differences can be accounted for, in part, by variations in the fiscal capacity of areas to support education and by the sociodemographic composition of student populations. Although state and federal educational support compensates for some of the disparity in wealth among communities, outputs in poorer communities still tend to seriously lag those of wealthier ones. Of even greater public concern than the mixed record of school performance indicators is the poor record of success of youths in the workplace. The long-run economic prospects for young people have declined substantially in recent years, especially among minority groups and males (Table 8.3). Among men with various education levels, all but those with postcollege training suffered real losses in earnings potential from 1979 to 1991. Among school dropouts and high school graduates who did not go on to college, the losses exceeded 24 percent (Table 8.3). These losses have been fairly similar across racial/ethnic groups. Young women fared better relative to their male counterparts but only those completing college, and white women who pursued postcollege training realized sizable gains. It is also notable that young black women who completed only high school or less suffered losses much like their male counterparts. There are several explanations for these trends, including the increasing proportion of the work force in higher education groups, an increase in the supply of labor due to rapidly rising rates of female labor force participation, declines in the real minimum wage, and structural shifts in the economy (Burtless, 1990,

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--> TABLE 8.3 Percent Changes in Median Income of 25 to 34 Year Olds, 1979–1991, by Educational Attainment   <High School High School Some College College Graduate Postcollege Men -36 -24 -18 -3 7 White -32 -25 -15 -3 7 Black -29 -23 -23 -16 0 Hispanic -37 -28 -20 -5 0 Women -1 -7 7 18 16 White -1 -5 8 21 22 Black -32 -24 -17 12 -13 Hispanic 7 -8 3 7 -12   SOURCE: Tabulations of the Current Population Survey data provided courtesy of Richard J. Murnane, Harvard University. 1994; Blank, 1994; Murnane and Levy, 1992). The latter explanation is the one most relevant to education and how we judge the performance of schools. There is increasing evidence that it is not enough for schools to improve incrementally on their previous performance targets. The United States is experiencing a widening skill gap between young adults coming out of the school system and the demands of the current labor market (Berryman, 1988; Berlin and Sum, 1988; U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, 1988; Committee for Economic Development, 1994; Hanushek, 1994). Whatever the source of the declining economic prospects for the next generation of young adults, they coincide with a number of other troublesome social trends. For example, increasing numbers of young women are becoming parents during their teenage years, with low prospects of marrying the fathers of their children. This is especially true of Hispanic and black teenagers (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994; Zill and Nord, 1994). Increasingly, the young fathers do not share in the rearing of their children. In about half of the cases, this leaves the young mothers and their children poor and dependent on welfare (Sawhill, 1989; Zill and Rogers, 1988; Congressional Budget Office, 1990). Finally, there is evidence of substantial increases in criminal activity among young males and young adults. Nationally, 57 percent of all arrests for serious crimes are committed by persons under the age of 25. Over the 20-year period from 1970 to 1990, the arrest rate for 14 to 17 year olds increased 37 percent (from 96 arrests per 1,000 to 132), while the rate for 18 to 24 year olds nearly doubled, from 66 to 126 arrests per 1,000. Looking Beyond the Schools to Improve Educational Outcomes It is becoming increasingly clear that many factors are contributing to the disappointing life prospects of many of today's youth. Indeed, there is a mount-

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--> ing body of research that highlights the complex paths of influence at various stages from conception through the transition to adulthood. 7 Figure 8.1 summarizes this vast body of research within the context of a causal model of child development and outcomes. The literature consistently highlights the fact that most of the variation in outcomes for youths is not explained by specific measurable attributes of their families, schools, and communities. Rather, the behavioral patterns of the children themselves and their developmental status, including their innate abilities, exert powerful influences on subsequent outcomes. Of the three partners in the education process, the family has the strongest and most enduring influence on children's behaviors and outcomes. Some of these are direct influences on children throughout their preadult lives—the socioeconomic status of the family, the physical environment of the home, the amount and quality of time parents spend with their children, health and nutrition practices, and the numbers and spacing of children. Parents have differing avenues of influence at various stages of their children's lives. For example, parents decide on the timing and spacing of children and their prenatal care, which affect the health and early development of the child. Parents make decisions regarding ''mother care" versus "other care" during the preschool years. Finally, during the school years, parents convey important messages regarding the value of education through their aspirations and expectations and their involvement in school activities. The third strongest influence on children's outcomes is that of their school. Although early studies of the impact of schools on student outcomes were discouraging (Jencks and Mayer, 1990; Coleman et al., 1966; Averch et al., 1972; Hanushek, 1989; Walberg and Fowler, 1987), other research provides more convincing evidence that schools can make a difference. At the elementary and secondary school levels, those factors that have been found to be most influential are class size, teacher quality, and peer group characteristics (Summers and Wolfe, 1977; Ferguson, 1991; Hedges et al., 1994; Odden and Kim, 1992). There is also a growing body of research indicating the power of quality preschool experiences on subsequent educational outcomes (Ramey and Campbell, 1990; Berrueta-Clement et al., 1984; McGroder, 1990). While not well substantiated, there are strong beliefs that the school's physical plant and equipment including state-of-the-art technology and laboratories, as well as nonacademic services and programs, will impact student outcomes directly. The fourth source of direct influence on child outcomes is the community. The major sources of community influence vary over the lifespan. During the preschool years, the major source is through the quality of early care and education options. During the school years, the more powerful influences come from peer group and the alternative time use options. For example, communities differ in the opportunities they offer youths to engage in productive versus unproduc 7   Haveman and Wolfe (1994) provide an excellent review of this literature.

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--> FIGURE 8.1 Educational partnerships, by stages of child development.

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--> tive activities and in peer influences to engage in various types of school and nonschool activities. Communities also offer different levels and qualities of employment opportunities for in-school youth to complement or substitute for their school activities. During the postsecondary period, the influence tends to be through educational and job opportunities and the social setting. For example, in tight labor markets with rising real wages for lower-skilled jobs, the proportion of youth pursuing postsecondary education, particularly community colleges, has tended to fall. Although studies have not documented the existence of a causal relationship between criminal opportunities and school retention, dropout rates are higher in areas in which there are "employment" opportunities for youth in the drug trade and where property crime rates are high (Lynn and McGeary, 1990). School participation, including enrollment in postsecondary education, has tended to rise during periods of slack labor markets providing fewer and less desirable alternatives to school. Beyond these direct influences on child outcomes, there is a complex web of indirect paths of influence—aggregate impacts of family decisions on the community and school environments, impacts of school policies and practices on the community and on families, and impacts of children's behaviors and outcomes on the family and schools, as well as the community. For example, parents have indirect but highly important influences on their children's outcomes through their choice of community and school district. They also can influence their schools through participation in school governance, involvement in school service organizations, and formal or informal partnerships with teachers to strengthen the learning environment for children. Schools can affect communities and families through their efforts to promote parental and community involvement. Obviously, the community influences the family and the school through economic and social support for families and schools, economic opportunities, and social and political climate. Building Blocks for and Challenges to Productive Partnerships The complexity of these relationships among the informal partners in the education process helps explain the frequent disappointments and limited success of educational reforms and bilateral partnerships designed to promote higher lifetime success rates for children. This section looks at some of the key trends in schools, families, and communities as background for examining the potential of various forms of overt partnerships to improve the general efficiency and educational performance of schools. Trends in School Inputs As noted above, by many standards, schools have improved over the past 20 years. They have higher levels of resources per pupil, more highly paid teachers,

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--> Smaller percentages of twelfth graders in 1992 as compared with tenth graders in 1990 were approached at school by someone offering to sell them drugs (NCES, 1994, Table 48-4). Missing from this aggregate picture of improvements and deteriorations in school climate and resources are the widening disparities in the problems faced by schools and the resources available to them. Over the past 20 years there has been an increasing concentration of minority and poor children in center-city schools. Relative to their suburban counterparts, these schools have higher rates of reported school violence, increasing rates of children with diagnosed learning disabilities, lower resources per pupil, and, not surprisingly, much worse student outcomes. Trends in Family Inputs There are some trends in family characteristics that work to the advantage of children and many that work against them. On the positive side, parents, especially black parents, today have higher levels of education than was the case 20 years ago. The size of the American family also has dropped from an average of just over three children to just under two, a change most pronounced among low-income families. Furthermore, the average spacing between children has increased. Each of these factors has had a positive effect on child outcomes (Haveman and Wolfe, 1994). Other trends have more ambiguous implications for children. One trend is the rapid increase in labor force participation by mothers (Zill and Nord, 1994; Hayes et al., 1990; Blau, 1991). Currently, a majority of children have mothers in the labor force, including more than one-half of all preschool-age children. As a result, many families, most two-parent families, enjoy higher standards of living. On the other hand, the trends in labor force participation of women also mean that children must spend substantial amounts of time in child care.8 The best-available evidence suggests that, on balance, child outcomes either are not affected or are improved slightly by this trend (Stafford, 1986; Haveman and Wolfe, 1994). There are several trends in the conditions of American families that are clearly associated with worse outcomes for children—especially, rising divorce rates, increases in out-of-wedlock births, rising teenage birth rates, higher child poverty rates, and higher rates of domestic violence. Whereas in 1970 only 1.2 percent of children experienced a divorce of their parents each year (double the rate in 1950), by 1988 the rate had increased 50 percent to 1.8 percent (NCES, 8   Less than one-fourth of children whose mothers are in the labor force are cared for by a parent during the time the mother works. A small fraction accompany their mothers to work or have mothers who work at home. The larger portion have two parents who work different shifts (Congressional Budget Office, 1990; Hayes et al., 1990). Among poor and single-parent families, the proportion of children of working mothers cared for by a parent is very small (Kisker et al., 1989).

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--> 1993b). Half of all children today can expect to live part of their childhood in a single-parent household (Zill and Nord, 1994; Haveman and Wolfe, 1994). Compounding the adverse consequences for children of divorce is the fact that the number of children being born to single parents is increasing at an alarming rate. Currently, 30 percent of all children in this country are born out of wedlock, more than triple the rate in 1970. Indeed, more than two-thirds of minorities and teenagers giving birth are unmarried. Similarly, over half of all births in 11 of our largest cities were to unmarried women.9 Although average family income has increased by about 6 percent in real terms over the past 20 years, the gain has been disproportionately enjoyed by two-parent families. The combined effect of the rising out-of-wedlock birth rate and the rising divorce rate is that today over one-fourth of all children and over one-half of black children live in single-parent households at high risk of poverty. Over half of all children in single-parent families and over two-thirds of black and Hispanic children in single-parent families live in poverty; in contrast, only about 20 percent of children in two-parent families are poor.10 One factor contributing to the high poverty rate is the low level of support from absent parents. Over half of single mothers receive no financial support from the absent fathers, and most who receive payments receive relatively small amounts (NCES, 1993b). Another factor is the decline in real wages, especially among low-skilled workers. Under the current wage structure, a sizable proportion of single parents, who are disproportionately low skilled, cannot escape poverty even through full-time work (Ellwood, 1988; U.S. House of Representatives, 1993).11 A third factor contributing to the high poverty rate among single-parent families is the decline in the youth job market (Wilson, 1987; Stern, 1993), and a fourth factor is the 23 percent decline in real welfare benefits per recipient since 1970 (NCES, 1993b). Single-parent families are not only much more likely to be poor than other families, they also have only about half the amount of time to devote to child rearing. They also have less choice about whether to use child care than do parents living together. For the vast majority of single parents, their only hope of escaping poverty is through employment. This requires them to rely on non-parental, often nonrelative, child care for significant amounts of time.12 9   These cities are Atlanta (64 percent), Baltimore (62 percent), Chicago (54 percent), Cleveland (64 percent), Detroit (71 percent), Miami (51 percent), Newark (65 percent), Philadelphia (59 percent), Pittsburgh (52 percent), St. Louis (66 percent), and Washington, D.C. (66 percent). 10   The poverty rate among single-parent families has remained fairly stable since 1970 (NCES, 1993b, p. 48). 11   Labor force participation rates are higher among single parents than among women in two-parent families (Hayes et al., 1990). Moreover, the rates for minority women have consistently been substantially higher than for white women. 12   With the rise in labor force participation rates for women, care by relatives is increasingly less often a realistic option (Hayes et al., 1990; Willer et al., 1991).

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--> The recent upturn in the incidence of early family formation has been stimulated by both a rise in the incidence of single-parent households and by the rising child poverty rates (Nord et al., 1992; Moore et al., 1993; Zill, 1994). Teenage childbearing has numerous adverse consequences for both the educational outcomes for the teenagers who are giving birth and their children. The teenagers themselves are more likely to drop out of school and enter a life of dependency (Moore et al., 1993; Congressional Budget Office, 1990; Ahn, 1994; Geronimus and Korenman, 1993; Horowitz et al., 1991; Hoffman et al., 1993). One result is less supportive home environments for the children (Haveman and Wolfe, 1994; Zill and Nord, 1994). Community Trends In many respects the trends in communities mirror those in families, but communities have become much more homogeneous in terms of both their strengths and their problems. For example, poverty rates outside central cities have been falling, while those inside have been rising. As a result, there has been a near doubling of the proportion of the poor population residing in central cities (Kantor and Brenzel, 1993). Within cities the population is further segregated by neighborhood (Wilson, 1987; Kasarda, 1993; Lynn and McGeary, 1990). There has also been a trend toward higher rates of private school attendance by children from higher-income families relative to low-income families (NCES, 1993b). As a result of these trends, almost one-half of inner-city schools have a majority of the low-income students (Kantor and Brenzel, 1993). While the student population has become increasingly needy, the fiscal capacity of inner-city schools to obtain funds has declined (Kantor and Brenzel, 1993). Other community-wide trends—increases in crime rates in inner-city areas, high rates of drug use and employment opportunities in the drug industry, and decreasing job opportunities for those without postsecondary education—go hand in hand with high rates of teenage parenting, single-parent households, and high rates of school failure (Wilson, 1987; Haveman and Wolfe, 1994; Datcher, 1982; Crane, 1991; Corcoran and Datcher, 1981). Even at the state level there is substantial variation in the community context in which children are reared (Table 8.5). Personal income per capita ranges from $11,000 in the poorest state, Mississippi, to over $23,000 in Connecticut. State child poverty rates range from 33 percent in Mississippi to 7.3 percent in New Hampshire, and the percentage of all adults who have completed high school ranges from 64 percent in Mississippi to 86 percent in Alaska. There is a tendency for these characteristics to move together and to follow per-pupil expenditures and local tax effort. For example, per-pupil expenditures range from a low of $3,187 in Mississippi to a high of $8,645 in New Jersey. Moreover, the gap in per-pupil expenditures has widened dramatically over the past 20 years, as illustrated by the fact that expenditures in the lowest-spending state, Mississippi, only

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--> TABLE 8.5 Variations Across States in Selected Family, School, and Community Characteristics   Lowest State Highest State Highest State as % of Lowest Personal income, 1988 $11,116 $23,059 207 % Children who speak English with difficultya 0.8 14.9 1862 % 6 to 11 year olds in poverty 33.5 7.3 22 % Adults with high school diploma 64.3 86.6 135 Per-pupil expenditures $3,187 $8,645 271 % Population completed high school 53 82 154 Tax effort index, 1988 84 127 151 Percent of Seniors Taking SAT (1990) 4 74 1850 NAEP grade 8 math score, 1990 246 281 114   SOURCES: Adapted from Odden and Kim (1992, Table 8.1) and NCES (1993a, 1994). aAll Children also speak a language other than English at home. doubled in nominal terms since 1970, while those in the highest-spending state, New Jersey, increased more than eightfold (NCES, 1993a). Partnerships to Improve Educational Outcomes A common theme in educational reform and improvement efforts is building partnerships—partnerships between communities and families, between families and schools, between schools and communities, and among all three groups (Figure 8.2). Such partnerships generally have a specific and fairly narrow focus and often have limited reach in terms of the proportion of the target population served. Community-Family Partnerships Community-family partnerships have the longest history and in some cases the broadest coverage. Yet educational improvement is generally not their primary goal. At one extreme in this category are welfare and public health programs, which offer broad coverage and spend millions of dollars annually to provide income and health security to poor families through the Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Medicaid programs. At the other extreme are small community-based family resource centers that work to strengthen individuals and families through a variety of informal supports and referrals (Weiss and Jacobs, 1988; Larner et al., 1992; Goetz, 1992). These programs vary

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--> FIGURE 8.2 Types of partnerships, by key participants. widely in terms of their missions, size, outreach, and intensity. Moreover, they tend to rise and fall with sources of financial support. In between are the many community-based job training programs designed to promote employment and the economic well-being of families. These tend to have stronger roots in the community than the family support programs as a result of their more stable funding and longer histories. School-Family Partnerships There are numerous examples of formal school-family partnerships that are directed specifically at improving the school outcomes of children. Head Start and the urban pre-K programs are probably the best known. There are also various early intervention programs for at-risk children, special schools and support programs for in-school teenage parents, and both adult and family literacy programs. The schools are generally the lead actors in these partnerships (Goetz, 1992; St. Pierre et al., 1994; Dryfoos, 1990, 1994; Cohen et al., 1994). School-Community Partnerships Prompted in large part by concerns over the quality of the work force and urban social and economic problems, many community and business groups have reached out to public schools to address some of the most pressing community problems. The resulting partnerships have included school-linked health centers, mentoring programs, work-study programs, and school-business collaboratives aimed at improving the vocational exposure and job readiness of youths. Private school management corporations are a relatively new entry into this category.

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--> The lead partner is sometimes the school and sometimes the community agency or business (Fraser et al., 1993; Goldberger et al., 1994; Pauly et al., 1994; U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, 1988). In any case, such initiatives are generally confined to one school and, in some cases, particular curriculum areas or student groups within a school. All-Way Partnership The ultimate partnership is one that encompasses all points of strength and weakness in schools, families, and communities. These are rare, in large part because of their complexity in purpose and governance. The most notable examples of all-way partnerships are school-linked family service centers, community schools, university-community schools, and community development efforts (University of Pennsylvania, 1994). Strengths and Challenges There have been more disappointments than clear successes from the many and varied efforts to reform and improve our education system. The most common source of disappointment in these partnerships is that their designs generally are not fully implemented. Sometimes the reason is inadequate funding; sometimes it relates to a technical problem; frequently, it simply derives from the fact that the stakeholders did not share a common set of objectives. Although most of these initiatives have not undergone rigorous evaluation to assess their effectiveness, the results from existing evaluations are generally disappointing.13 The following illustrates some of the results: Income support and welfare. Welfare reforms that have attempted to institute closer links with schools through mandating participation by teenagers who have not graduated or are parents have had modest impacts on school enrollment. Those that have required adults to participate in education or training have met with widely different levels of success at different sites. Even the most successful programs have increased employment rates by only 10 to 15 percentage points and have contributed little to the economic well-being of families. Job training. Job training programs have had small beneficial effects for adult women, but generally they have not led to increased employment rates or earnings for adult men or youth. Adult education. Adult education programs do increase attainment of the GED. However, the few studies that have measured gains in basic skills attribut 13   Maynard and McGrath (1995) review the research findings for these various types of reforms. See also the references cited earlier under the discussion of the various types of partnerships

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--> able to the GED preparation course show no measurable gains in skills associated with the program. Preschool. Head Start and pre-K programs have been found to improve child development outcomes in the short run. However, evidence regarding the durability of those benefits is mixed. Teenage parenting. Even high-cost programs designed to mitigate the problems associated with teenage parenting have met with limited success. Only those that have truly engaged teenagers in a program with mutual obligations and services have led to increased earnings and reductions in welfare dependence. Even then, the gains are modest. Adolescent health. School-linked health centers have led to modest increases in the use of health care by adolescents. However, they do not seem to have had the hoped-for benefit of lowering the sexual activity and pregnancy rates of teens. Parenting. Programs offering parenting education and family literacy have had modest measured benefits in terms of parenting behaviors and measured literacy gains of the parents. Other programs, such as the school-community partnerships, community development initiatives, and mentoring programs, have not been subjected to rigorous evaluation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these initiatives have also met considerable implementation challenges that raise serious questions about whether they can reasonably be expected to make significant progress in improving school outcomes for at-risk children. Looking to the Future It is critical that we aggressively pursue ways to improve the focus and efficiency of our education system. Increases in financial support for education in the absence of reformed goals and delivery mechanisms are likely to have limited or no impact on either the life courses of our young people or the economic welfare of the nation (Hanushek, 1994). The United States has many experiences with educational partnerships and reform efforts to guide the crafting of improved educational models for the future. We should critically review the many lessons from these well-intentioned, but generally flawed, efforts to mitigate the adverse life consequences of growing up poor or attending a school with a high concentration of poor children. We are also searching for ways to improve all schools to enable them to better prepare noncollege-bound youngsters for the transition to the work force and enable them to earn a decent wage and strengthen our national economy. We are attempting to address large and multifaceted problems through well-intentioned but small and often ad hoc partnerships. Big complex problems require carefully planned and implemented solutions.

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