Americans are flocking to “cram schools”, math test prep schools once primarily led and attended by Asian and Russian immigrants. The NYT reports:
It’s no surprise to the average New York parent that so-called cram schools, once the cultural domain of Chinese-, Korean- and Russian-American students, have gained traction with non-Asian parents hoping to grab slots in competitive gifted programs and coveted middle and high schools by improving their children’s test scores.The test-preparation industry is expected to generate $840.4 million in revenues in 2013, according to a recently released report by the market research firm IBISWorld. That figure is expected to climb to $876.9 million by 2018. Spurring the trend, experts say, are the very obsessions that drive New York parents to distraction: the increasing competitiveness of the college entrance process, the introduction of more rigorous national curriculum standards, and a lack of faith in local public schools.
It’s far from uncommon for Asian and Russian immigrants, who often see a gap between the education they received and the ones they’re children are getting, to want to close that gap. The new thing here is the fact that non-immigrant parents are also sending their kids to these cram schools.We don’t see this trend stopping anytime soon. The Fordist approach to K-12 education is getting creakier by the day, pushing more and more concerned parents to look for out-of-the-box alternatives. To the extent that social policy grants parents more control over their children’s education, expect this trend to accelerate.This is good news for the tutors and “cram schools” the Times describes, which can cater the specific needs of individual students more easily than their traditional big-box competitors. While we don’t think these math-intensive programs are for everyone, there are some students whom they fit to a “t.” We should be doing what we can to make sure more students have access to them.