Report: Public Schools Near Private Schools

Diana Schemo (NY Times, "Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study") writes:

The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private school counterparts fared better. ...

Students in private schools typically score higher than those in public schools, a finding confirmed in the study. The report then dug deeper to compare students of like racial, economic and social backgrounds. When it did that, the private school advantage disappeared in all areas except eighth-grade reading.

In other words, socioeconomic background is the primary "determiner" of academic success or failure. These findings echo those in the California study (see "Bilingual Education vs. English Immersion: A Draw"), which stated,

"the strongest predictor of academic underperformance" is poverty.

I wonder how poverty is linked to attitude. William Raspberry, retired columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote about the Attitude Gap:

Speaking frankly and helpfully about the academic achievement gap between black and white students is a lot harder than it ought to be.

It is particularly hard if it is true -- as I believe -- that the gap has less and less to do with racism and more and more to do with the habits and attitudes we inculcate among our children.

I remember reading another article by Raspberry in which he attributed the academic achievement of military children to their attitude that although they recognized the existence of racism they still felt that success was possible. Although I couldn't find it, parts of it seems to have been picked up by Casondra Brewster:

Syndicated columnist William Raspberry attributed military kids’ high academic success ratios of good grades and moving on to college to, in his words, "... an unusual degree of academic success because they hold to an unusual degree of the empowering belief that they are in control of their destinies." Raspberry also attributed military school children’s success to the presence of parents "who are both self-disciplined and accepting of military discipline."

Is the relationship between poverty and attitude one similar to "learned hopelessness"?