As low-income districts experience ever-greater struggles to meet their students’ needs on dwindling budgets, their schools are targets of “reforms” fundamentally different from those serving higher-income students. And, as my own teaching trajectory reflects, these attempted “fixes” can actually exacerbate inequities.
A new policy guide from the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (BBA) and the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Campaign shows how to build high-quality early support systems for children that strengthen communities and families, promote and sustain early education, and enable children to thrive. It also covers ways to resolve one of our nation’s most intractable problems: the academic achievement gap.
After 30 years of standards-and-accountability “reforms,” we are beginning to question whether the pendulum has swung too far. Over those same decades, however, evidence continues to affirm the wisdom of investing early in children’s lives. If we could somehow apply lessons we have learned in the birth-to-five arena to K-12 policy, we might attain the breakthroughs we have sought. Spoiler alert: worms play an important role.
"No excuses” policies and demands that students be tougher or grittier ring false to me. My students are already tremendously tough, unbelievably gritty. The problem is not that they need to be tougher or that I need to make fewer excuses. The problem is that they already have too many reasons to be tough — lack of food, relatives in prison, threats of eviction or deportation, parents sick or addicted, caring for younger siblings — and that adults at school rarely see the full picture. I spend fifty hours a week at school and I still don’t always see the full picture. It’s hard to imagine how policymakers, who are so distant from my students’ day-to-day realities, can claim to see them better than I can.
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.
Rich Hill: Three Boys in Small Town America (April 29, 2014)
Ready for Kindergarten (February 27, 2014 and March 8, 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