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It's all of the above, plus everything else. Once a student gets "behind grade level" in reading or math or social development, the only way for them to catch up and stay on track is for every aspect of healthy development and quality learning to come together. I'm totally with the "Village" concept. Often the parent doesn't have the skill or support to create a healthy, positive family life for their child and hence the parent needs to be a student as well.
Once society started trending towards a more independent, non-trusting/trustworthy, self-defending and self-absorbed population, the whole village became a competitive, "I'm going to take care of my own," place where neighbors don't even learn the names of the people next door, let alone look out for the children next door or across the street.
In well-to-do neighborhoods, the community is stronger and more bonded together, but in many of those homes, things go on behind closed doors, I'm guessing. Some of those honor roll students are so stressed out that at some point they might crack under the pressure of achieving.
In poor neighborhoods, there is often no routine or schedule in the home. There may be nothing to eat, and I've seen single teen mothers giving kool aide flavored sugared water to their babies and not formula or milk. There is no foundation for a healthy, positive lifestyle. We can't really legislate our way out of that.
I work with older teens and young twenty-somethings. Some who have not finished high school and read and/or do math on a 3rd grade level. Take a class of 15 students in that situation and try to help increase learning!? In order to do that, one has to do the social/emotional work to help students to be able to admit they need help and to not pick on each other or feel embarrassed. Students at 18 who do not know how to multiply?
No matter how much professional development and education and teaching experience a person has under his/her belt, being the teacher in that classroom is incredibly challenged. Especially when government expectations are SO high. The only way I see to positively support this situation is to develop partnerships with colleges to have mentors and tutors assist... and to assist the instructor in having all of the tricks and tools available. That's where the funding cuts are so difficult.
Adult education programs that used to address these situations used to be ready to serve the Adult Basic Education and GED seeking population. After having done much research, the materials for these types of classes are expensive and don't look as rigorous as when I was in that type of classroom.
In any case, its going to take an entire healthy achievement oriented community to pull out of the illiteracy/ achievement gap problem. None of the answers above will do it. Tutors and mentors and support for parents and teachers is what it will take. It takes a village.
I am in complete agreement with your idea! Sometimes, however, we get students (like a majority of my school) whose parents are in jail, or abusing drugs. In these situations we need to step up as teachers to steer these students away from this sort of life.
When are we going to acknowledge that schools and teachers can't do educate our children by themselves? Parents must become involved! They must attend parent teacher conferences, come to parent workshops, ensure that their child is well feed, clean, and gets plenty of rest. Stop blaming schools and teachers! Parents are vital to the success of THEIR children!
It takes an entire village. Every member is a stakeholder, teacher, child, parent, government, school and social programs. Interventions are needed immediately and should never take an entire school year. If teachers are not willing to work in the trenches, to work through the unique set of circumstances that the 21st century learner brings to the classroom, then they should seek another profession. As educators it is incumbent upon us to meet them where they are. If not, we then do them a grave dis-service.
First, Education, schools, and children are not like business organizations or factories. Nor are they like a hospital or a military unit. So let's first reframe the way we look at education. For the past 30 years we have tried to push education and schools through the business model and it is a bankrupt initiative. Sure, Schools should work with corporations, businesses but educational professionals and parents should be in the driver seat. Do we really want our schools motivated by the forces that led to Enron and the current Wall Street crimes? Better to empower educational professional associations like the National Council of Teachers of Math(NCTM), and the like. The choice of a metaphor for education is very powerful and can be counter productive, we need new metaphors.
Second, the media with polls such as the one included here, force us to think in terms of simplistic, univariate, silver-bullet solutions. Most replies here see through that simplistic notion. So there should be another multiple choice selection in the poll above(which clearly indicates the problems of our current system focused on multiple choice, high stakes, testing), "all of the above." Housing policy is education policy. Health care policy is education policy, labor and wage policy is education policy, etc. There are multiple, complex and contextual issues that lead to the acheivement gap. We need multiple policy initiatives that are coordinated and focused on improving equity above all other values.
Third, the Acievement gap is really about the failure of coordinated (federal-state-local)equity policy. It seems like arounf the 1980s we simply as a society gav up on the inner cities. Why don't we identify the 10 most problematic urban contexts producing the greatest acheivement gaps and highest incarceration rates for drop outs and then apply an new equity policy that focuses on teacher quality including as a part of its definition of high quality, culturally relevant and sensitive instruction. The affective realtionship between teacher and student is shown to have a powerful effect on academic achievement. As a part of this, we might also instill hope in students by giving at-risk students an assurance of post-secondary educational funding if success is shown and also work on the racial context of our economy that often still discriminates when it comes to hiring decisions. Let's not forget to include colleges and schools of education that train the bulk of our teachers in these solutions.
Fourth and last, why don't we ever ask the students who are the subject of the acheivement gap what the problem is and how we should go about addressing it from a policy perspective. Most educational policy is created by people who are far removed from the actual ground level and has been ineffectual. Yes, experts, and scientists are important but practitioners and students and parents need to be an active part of policy formulation.
I know tracking students is looked down upon - but imagine tracking learner types - This might allow us to maintain larger class sizes than you are suggesting and still offering children an enhanced approach to learning.
The only way to address this gap is better service by our education system at an individualized instructional level. Put motivated teachers into a class of low acheivers at a five to one ratio, giving the teacher plenty of time for individual instruction, no amount of professional development will correct this problem if we continue to have large ratios of students to teachers with these lower performer. THEY MUST HAVE INDIVIDUALIZED ATTENTION AND INSTRUCTION, otherwise no program under the sun will work with them. Lets get real here and spend some money and apply some common sense to a problem that clearly the educational leaders of our day are incapable of solving in old traditional ways.
Parents need to be interested and involved but many students need more attention than parents and the school can give. Where is the mentoring that used to come from the old quote "it takes a village to raise a child" we are all involved.
Family involvement and education for uninformed parents is the way to go.
We must treat children fairly, not equally! Children come to school presenting unequally, that is not all are the same. To be fair to one child means that the treatment for education may be different from another child, thus, not equal! No Child Left Behind is a political joke!