I consider myself a reform-minded teacher. I’m an advocate for using data to inform instruction and to monitor my students’ progress. But I have learned in my years of teaching — and running a club for young men at Dunbar High School — that our obsession with testable elements of the high-school experience has taken focus away from making that content meaningful, so that students might do well in school despite the hardships they face. I can thank the students in our club, the Gentlemen of Dunbar, for this lesson.
Today, newly-formed education advocacy group TREE (Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence) hosted a presentation by Elaine Weiss of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education. Weiss discussed recent Tennessee education policy in the context of the drivers of educational inequality. She pointed to research suggesting that poverty is a significant contributor to student outcomes and noted other research that suggests as much as 2/3 of student outcomes are predicted by factors outside of school.
Much has been made of the emphasis that New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has put on the poverty and inequality that plague the city, and how that contrasts with the position of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Perhaps the biggest difference is that, although both list education as a top priority, de Blasio has made it clear that he recognizes the role that poverty and inequality play in achievement gaps.
Every three years, American policymakers eagerly anticipate the release of PISA scores. The 2013 headline is basically that the United States continues to fall right in the middle of the pack, which ED calls "stagnating." However, average scores may obscure and confuse more than they inform. Luckily, this year, three states received individual PISA rankings -- as if they were independent countries. This can help us connect the dots between those disparities and scores.
In contrast to education "reformers" such as Joel Klein who support increased spending on charter schools, testing, and performance-based rewards, the BBA calls for a redirection of funds towards early-childhood education, health care, and other social supports.
Data suggests that better schools do not address the problem of under achievement. Instead, resources should be directed towards a broader, bolder approach, incorporating childcare, parental support, and community involvement.
There are no announcements at this time.
Ready for Kindergarten (February 27, 2014)
The New Public (November 7, 2013)
American Winter (March 14, 2013)
ECE Webinar: Domains of Brain Development and Early Childhood Brain Science with Todd Grindal
Part I | Part II
ECE Webinar: Economic Benefits of Early Childhood Investments, K-12 Impacts with Robert G. Lynch
ECE Webinar: Paid Early Childhood Caregivers and Educators with Robert C. Pianta