"Research thus suggests that strategies to improve lower-class children’s performance will be more effective if they combine school improvement efforts with policies to narrow social and economic inequalities."
In my last post I wrote how a group of market-friendly neoliberals has been anointed by the media as school "reformers." The "reforms" they propose can be summed up succinctly:
- opposition to teachers' unions; and
- advocacy of accountability, merit pay and charter schools.
Real "reformers", many of whom are signatories to the statement they call "A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education," dismiss the quick and simplistic reforms of the neoliberals and propose more comprehensive solutions to the low school achievement of poor and minority students. Many of those solutions involve the health and well-being of children in the five years before formal schooling typically begins.
They argue that until we enact social policies designed to ameliorate the debilitating effects of poverty on the ability to succeed in school, no amount of tinkering with school structure and pedagogy will close the achievement gap.
In short, the problems associated with poverty cannot be addressed by education alone.
It would be helpful if school boards, including the Portland Public Schools Board of Education, would acknowledge that reality and stop blathering on about how the policies they adopt are designed with an eye on "closing the achievement gap."
That said, public schools can do a better job in helping students learn. That won't be accomplished, however, by pushing test-based accountability, teacher merit pay, or charter schools.
(I said I would address those issues, particularly charter schools, in subsequent posts. And I will, but circumstances here at home have prevented me from blogging as frequently as I would like.)