Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Coleman Report

UPDATE: I got an electronic copy of the Coleman Report, and uploaded it to Scribd here, and to Google Docs here.  

I've previously complained about the fact that I can't find a published copy of the famous "Coleman Report," the 1966 study of educational achievement among some 600,000 schoolchildren. Since that post, I have corresponded with the Government Printing Office, which originally published that report. But the GPO says that it is out of print. I'm still puzzled that such a monumental and groundbreaking study is unavailable.

I have had a bit of luck, however, in finding out that Coleman later put together a collection of essays, academic articles, and selections from the Coleman Report in a book entitled Equality and Achievement in Education. As of right now, Amazon has one used copy available for $103.71, and Abebooks has one copy available for $34.57.

A bit on the pricey side, but still a very good purchase.

In addition to featuring excerpts from the Coleman Report, the book also has several selections from Coleman's later works, such as the study Trends in School Segregation: 1968-1973 (which is ALSO out of print, by the way, as I found out when I contacted the original publisher, the Urban Institute).

That study was very controversial, because it showed that whites tended to depart for suburbs when cities began desegregating their schools. Why so controversial? Because researchers at the time preferred to believe that desegregation could not conceivably lead to any bad consequences for any reason. Indeed, Coleman writes (page 167) that the then-president of the American Sociological Association "proposed to have me censured by the association" for having reached a politically incorrect conclusion. Now, of course, the notion that "white flight" occurred in the 1970s is the conventional wisdom.

The book also has excerpts from a 1980s' study wherein Coleman and other researchers found that Catholic schools were superior to public schools in several dimensions -- students performed better on several tests even apart from selection effects, the positive effect of Catholic schools was strongest for poor minorities, and Catholic schools retained more students with disciplinary problems (as opposed to expelling them, which is what some people had claimed was the case). Again, a hugely controversial set of findings, at least in the eyes of pro-public-school ideologues.

Anyway, I highly recommend that book, if you can get your hands on it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm teaching a class on Generation X to a group of women and men in their 70s and 80s. I also chair the social justice efforts at my church in Plainfield NJ, which is an Abbott district, dealing with the funding of mostly-minority public schools in poor districts. In putting together my outline for my class on the childhood and education of GenX-ers, I ran across mention of the Coleman Report, and I'm fascinated by the data-based finding about family economic status as the primary predictor of academic performance. I also read one of Moynihan's essays in a neocon reader a few years ago, where he made much the same point: that the family disintegration of poor black families was a key obstacle to improving the life opportunities for their children. Anyway, if you have links to excerpts of the Coleman study, please let me know. I too am shocked and disappointed that it's out of print and unavailable online.

9:53 PM  

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