CAP.THE.GAP BACK-TO-SCHOOL SUPPLIES FLASH MOB
Stand in the gap for our children!
With the Philadelphia Public School system facing historic cuts in funding this year, our youth need help more than ever. In an effort to live up to Cap.The.Gap’s mission, we have partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Recreation and Millcreek Playground to host our First Annual Back-to-School Supplies Flash Mob!!! We want to turn Flash Mobs, which are associated with fear and violence here in Philadelphia, into something positive for our city’s school children!
On Monday, October 3rd, 2011, a mass text message will be sent to unsuspecting parents of Philadelphia school children, asking them to come to the Millcreek playground (47th Street and Brown Street) at 5:30pm to pick up book-bags and schools supplies for their children.
All are welcome to attend this historic event!
We look forward to seeing you on Monday, Oct 3rd, 2011
About Cap.The.Gap: Cap.the.Gap is an online blog that provides a forum for concerned citizens to engage in solutions-based and action-oriented conversations regarding educational inequalities. Cap.The.Gap’s mission is to close the academic achievement gap in our lifetime.
Join The Movement at http://www.facbook/capthegap.com
Inclusion Means Exclusion for this Group of Students: How the Foster Care System Contributes to the Gap
I’m painfully aware that there’s an enormous racial and socioeconomic disparity in academic achievement in our country. But I got to thinking about how this achievement gap might manifest itself in other categories of students. That is, apart from racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps, are there particular groups of students who achieve lower than others, and if so, why?
Interestingly, an answer presented itself through research I completed for my senior thesis on the foster care system. I realized that in addition to many other challenges, foster care students may have serious educational difficulties resulting in an achievement gap between them and other non-foster youth. An understanding of the educational issues and outcomes these young people face and subsequent implementation of appropriate strategies to counter them may prove invaluable.
The instability and impermanence of foster care placement creates a system in which young people experience unique educational challenges that children who are not in the foster care system may never face. Often, foster children’s lives before foster placement are marked by inconstancy and adverse circumstances that contribute to poor academic performance. In addition to other elements inducing poor educational achievement, children may have been abused, neglected, or exposed to illegal substances prior to foster placement.1 When placed into foster care, educational problems are exacerbated greatly.
Foster care youth usually receive low grades compared to their non-foster care classmates, perform poorly on standardized state tests, and “studies suggest that they are less likely to do their homework [or] receive help with schoolwork.”2 In addition to below average academic achievement, youth in the foster care system often exhibit negative behaviors in school. They “have higher rates of…school absence or tardiness…suspension, and expulsion.”3
One of the most significant hindrances to academic success for foster care children and youth is the instability of foster placements and constant school moves. On average, foster care youth may move one to two times per year, and in fact, one study discovered that 65% of former foster care youth had “experienced seven or more school changes from elementary to high school.”4 Such astounding numbers of school transfers and relocations result in “serious educational deficits” for foster care youth and an inability to form lasting relationships or support networks with peers and adults.5
Additionally, in moving from placement to placement and from school to school, their academic records are often misplaced or in extreme cases, destroyed. It may take weeks or even months for academic records from previous institutions to be received by the new school, if at all. During this interim period, children must delay enrollment, and thus, they may miss a significant amount of time in the classroom. “When youth in care move schools, they…experience…inappropriate school placements, lack of educational support services, and difficulties in transferring course credits. Youth in care often lack a strong advocate to help navigate the obstacles associated with changing schools.”6 And since school districts and child welfare agencies often do not liaise with each other adequately, the child’s best interests are not always served.
2 Munson & Freundlich, 2008, pg. 2
4 Pecora, Peter J. et al. “Improving Family Foster Care: Findings from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study.”
Executive Summary. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs. April 2005. .
5 Shirk, Martha and Gary Stangler. On Their Own: What Happens to Kids when They Age Out of the Foster Care
System? Colorado: Westview Press, 2004. Pg. 248-249.
6 Legal Center for Foster Care & Education. “Foster Care & Education Q & A: Credit Transfer and School
Completion.” American Bar Association & Casey Family Programs. Washington, DC 2008
Taking all of these educational obstacles into account, it is unsurprising that “youth in foster care are…twice as likely to drop out of school as other teens,” according to a 2003 study by the Vera Institute of Justice.7 A 1991 study found that 66% of the eighteen year olds discharged from foster care in the United States between 1987 and 1988 had not graduated from high school, and ten years later, a study done by Mark Courtney revealed that 37% of the former foster youth in his sample (with an average age of 19.5) had transitioned into adulthood with no high school diploma or GED.8
In Philadelphia, there are approximately 2,900 adolescents who are fourteen years or older in the custody of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS), and this cohort of youth should be targeted persistently by the school district for dropout prevention.9 It is to be expected from the high dropout and low graduation rates of foster care youth that many who have aged out do not attend college.
Most youth who age out of the foster care system will transition to adulthood undereducated, unskilled, and unable to compete in the U.S. labor market and the global economy. Edmund Mech, in discussing the importance of education to foster care youth, sums it up best:
Relationships between education, skill training, job acquisition and income have been well documented…Possessing less than a high school diploma is a serious, perhaps
insurmountable barrier. A GED only is insufficient and may be a deterrent to stable employment, and by itself, a high school diploma no longer assures employment beyond a poverty-level wage.10
7 Armstead, Brian. “Educational Issues Face Youth Aging Out of Foster Care.” The Notebook Philadelphia Public
School. Philadelphia: 2005 .
8 Courtney, Mark and Darcy Hughes Heuring. “The Transition to Adulthood for Youth ‘Aging Out’ of the Foster
Care System” in On Your Own Without a Net: The Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Populations. Ed. D.
Wayne Osgood, E. Michael Foster, Constance Flanagan, Gretchen Ruth. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,
2005. Pg. 34.
9 Armstead, 2005
10 Sheehy, Alfred M., Jr. et al. “Promising Practices: Supporting Transition of Youth Served by the Foster Care
System.” National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement. 1999. Pg. 6-7.
Former foster youths’ educational challenges and their propensity to drop out of high school without receiving a diploma, GED, or college degree affects many spheres of their lives upon the transition to adulthood. This lack of proper education makes it likely that they will face serious economic, social, health, and related struggles.
These kids’ inclusion in one system (the child welfare system) practically excludes or marginalizes them from another system (the education system). What interventions or supports might be necessary in schools to appropriately serve these students? Do you think this is a significant issue for Philadelphia schools or schools in general? How might we, as concerned citizens, bring more awareness to the issue?
To learn more and consider providing a safe, loving and stable environment for a foster kid, please log on to the Pew charitable Campaign: Kids Are Waiting: Fix Foster Care Now at: wwww.kidsarewaiting.org
Written by Cap.the.Gap contributor, Kristen Bryant
Every morning I wake up, get ready for work, and think to myself while I’m driving to work, ‘what’s the solution to this mindset of poverty? I think, ‘what can I do to make a difference in this culture of poverty?’ What am I accomplishing. And each day, when I arrive at work (in Camden), I am confronted with poverty-mindedness: attitudes, conversation, and thought processes. In addition, I am confronted with the environment in which all of this exists; confrontation submersion. How can I, as one, create change?
The common thought is that change is best created 1 person at a time. However, at that rate, and considering how long it takes for change to happen, how many are being lost? Maybe there is another way.
A wise man once said that if you truly want to help someone, it’s best to help yourself. He also said, basically, that intent to “help” others is rude and hopeless; that true hope lies in becoming the best person that one can be – not in a “greedy and selfish way” – but in a loving and ‘accepting of others’ way. It’s like — acceptance. I am accepting and acknowledging the place a person is in. From this place of humility and understanding, I am able to truly be present with another person. Here, I am of service. Here, I am not intending to be anything but here. I am not trying to make anything happen – good or bad. And it is from this place without expectation that I am able to begin being whatever is needed…which might also mean recognizing that I am not needed. Sounds like the Golden Rule right?
Enter Cap the Gap. My hope is that we are first in a place of humility and understanding. I am believing that we realize everyone is in a different “place” and is, therefore, seeking something different, even though the end is probably the same – what I am calling the Good Life. However, we individually define this phrase, we can all agree that it is good…and often better than where we are now.
As we continue to champion the ideals of quality education for all, I am hoping that we all realize that being our best allows others to be their best – wherever “best” is for us and them at a point in time. When we stop telling people what they need and stop offering limited options (a false sense of choice)When we recognize this on a large scale, we would need to alter social service programs that are being offered and change the way education is administered to all of our youth.
Am I espousing a weird, over-simplified, and disconnected approach to a problem that is already completely understood?
Written by Cap.the.Gap Contributor, Joshua Cooper
In my last blog post, I discussed the historical context of the achievement gap and reasons why we may now see such large racial gaps between white students and students of color, specifically African Americans. This week, I’m going to take things a bit further and speculate on other reasons for such an enormous disparity in academic achievement among the different races.
On national standardized tests, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, students of color have consistently scored much lower than white students in all subjects. Significant racial gaps in academic performance exist at all grade levels, and it is something that we, here at Cap The Gap, and across the country, are extremely concerned about. We’ve already learned the historical reasons for the achievement gap, but what other explanations might there be for ethnic/cultural differences in achievement?
One theory we discussed in one of my courses that I thought was incredibly interesting and super relevant to this blog was the idea of schools perpetuating achievement gaps by engaging in what researchers have labeled “subtractive schooling,” specifically affecting students of color. Subtractive schooling is the process by which schools systematically reject or deny minority students’ cultures by simply not recognizing them as valuable. Often, teachers, and schools in general, employ practices that subtly diminish and devalue the rich histories, social capital, and cultural assets that minority communities possess. A lack of reinforcement of cultural identities will have a strongly negative impact on student achievement.
In a study of Mexican students in Houston, it was shown that teachers’ disregard for the students’ strong Mexican heritage—their native language skills, international travel experiences to their native land, rich cultural identities (music, dance, food, etc.), neighborhood assets, and social networks—caused them to view schools as irrelevant and impersonal. Students also felt alienated by their school and subsequently felt that they had no network of academic support. Many Mexican students did not achieve to the level that they could have if only teachers had incorporated students cultural/personal experiences into their classrooms and lessons. By neglecting students’ cultural identities and experiences and not genuinely caring about these important aspects of their lives, faculty of schools can unintentionally negatively affect student achievement.
More professional development opportunities must become available to teachers and other school faculty to inform them about how to incorporate other cultures into their lessons. They must change their teaching practices to accommodate student differences and allow for diversity in the classroom.
As a future teacher, I intend to consciously erase deficit thinking and the insidious effects of such judgments from my mind and always be committed to searching for the good—the strengths in my students and the communities in which they live. My desire is to awaken young people to the beauty and wonder of learning by using my students’ own experiences, neighborhood assets, and community cultural wealth to enrich my teaching and make my lessons more engaging, creative, and culturally and personally relevant. I invite other future teachers to do the same. Teachers and school faculty must become acquainted with the communities in which their students live and the many resources and members of those communities that can be used to captivate students and make learning more pertinent to them.
What other actions can teachers and schools take to support students of color and begin to close the achievement gap once and for all?
(In this week’s blog, some information is taken from Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive Schooling: U.S.- Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. SUNY Series, The Social Context of Education. State University of New York Press.)
Written by Cap.the.Gap Contributor, Kristen Bryant
You have to be living under a rock not to know about Planned Parenthood. But for the sake of those who haven’t, let me give you a short history lesson.
A Brooklyn NY native by the name of Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in the early 1920s, which was later changed to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. Ms. Sanger was a women’s health advocate who believed that in order to improve women’s health they needed education and a way to control how many children they were having. Whether or not the group has improved women’s health is debatable but one things is for sure, today, Planned Parenthood has become the largest provider of abortions in the United States!
Within the last several months, however, their “banner of shame” has begun to unravel at the seams as a tidal wave of states move to cut funding to the group. The cuts, which amount to an earthquake of sorts, started in Kansas and sent aftershocks to Montana, Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and now Indiana.
Planned Parenthood knows it is on the ropes and has countered with several lawsuits against these cuts, claiming that such cuts threaten women’s health. A comment in the July 1st, 2011, ABC News feature, gives credence to the movement:
“There is a huge tidal wave of support sweeping across the country right now to defund
Planned Parenthood,” said Ciara Matthews, a spokesperson for the Susan B.
Anthony List, a pro-life activist group. “What the states are doing is what the federal
government has failed to do, and that is to strip tax dollars from America’s abortion
At the same time there is a similar movement to cut state and federal level education funding moving swiftly across the country. PA State Senator, Vincent Hughes highlighted in his July 1st 2011, Take Issue newsletter, the following cuts in education that were approved recently by Republican-controlled House and Senate:
School districts will lose more than $900 million overall—this marks the first time in decades that we will not see an increase in education spending.
- Poorer school districts hit hardest – $900 per student cut.
- Programs that were completely eliminated include the Education Assistance Program (tutoring), School Improvement Grants, Dual Enrollment, Science It’s Elementary, Reimbursement of Charter Schools, and High School Reform.
- Results: Significant property tax increases and thousands of job losses.
My question for the pro-life movement, and myself for that matter, is, (I am pro-life except in incidences of rape, incest or the mother’s life is in danger) how come they don’t mount an offensive that is just as aggressive as the move to get state funding cut from Planned Parenthood, towards these historic cuts in education funding, which will ultimately go on to “abort” the lives of tens of thousands of school children?! I mean, it seems that the pro-life movement only deems life scared inside of the womb and not outside the womb. Is the unborn child more important then the born child??
I believe that one way to end the reign of the pro-choice movement is to actually give women, especially poor women, “choice.” We know that education is the great equalizer, and I am convinced that when a woman, particularly a poor woman, weighs her options of bringing a life into this world only to have them placed on the cradle-to-prison conveyor-belt, due to inadequate public schools, the option to take her child’s life becomes even more irresistible!
The pro-life movement must become more holistic in its approach to ending the culture of abortion on demand, by simultaneously countering groups like Planned Parenthood and state and federal budgets that “abort children,” by maintaining enormous funding gaps between the haves and have-nots. Such funding gaps ultimately helps to widen and sustain the academic achievement gap in our nation’s public schools.
I assert that the life of the born child is just as sacred as the life of the unborn child. If the pro-life movement believed this too, they would contend for educating the very fetus they fight for, because ultimately this is what’s going to give it a LIFE.
If you agree that the pro-life movement needs to become more holistic in its approach to help end the culture of abortion on demand then post the following banner on your social media page:
PROTECT THE SANCTITY OF LIFE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE WOMB! CAPTHEGAP.WORPRESS.COM
Written By Cap.the.Gap Creator, Ms. Lola O.
Just recently, I came to a pretty simple realization: sometimes we become so engrossed in a problem that we forget to step back and take a look at the issue more broadly, from a historical standpoint. This mini history lesson will do just that, but of course, a brief essay can’t begin to scratch the surface of the enormous achievement gap, so I hope you’re inspired to take this a step further and do some research on your own to truly understand and engage with this topic.
The road to African American education has been a long and bumpy one filled with many obstacles. Even before the Civil War, African American slaves possessed a burning passion for education, convinced that an educated Black populace would end slavery. But many hindrances stood in the way of African American education, including severe racial prejudice, discriminatory legislation, and poverty. Even so, Black people’s eagerness to learn triumphed, and they eventually built schools, curriculums, and a foundation for educational success. They resourcefully educated themselves in the face of seemingly impossible obstacles and played a vital role in the development of the public school system that educated both Black and White students.
African American students in post-Civil War Southern schools faced many barriers to education, such as poverty, White hostility, vernacular confusion, and cultural differences between Southern students and their Northern teachers. The conditions in which the students were forced to learn—overcrowded schoolhouses, wide age ranges and abilities, and high student to teacher ratios, among others—impeded academic progress, and the financial necessity of sharecropping made schooling impossible for many Black freedpeople. Although they lacked the finances, resources, and course materials to learn effectively, many students made every effort to attend school, and Black and White Northern and Southern teachers did their best to educate their destitute pupils.
According to Heather Andrea Williams in Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom, as Blacks became more educated, “both elite and poor Whites…perceived a threat” as they realized they could no longer “rely on mere Whiteness to elevate them above better-educated Black people.” Yet, many Blacks had compassion for poor Southern Whites and realized that a common school system that could teach both White and Black students would be beneficial to and necessary in the fledgling United States of America. Small Black-operated schools accepted poor White students and soon became models for Whites to follow once Southern legislation instituted public school systems (that excluded Blacks).
The Jim Crow era of discriminatory federal, state, and local laws mandated school segregation, thus permitting institutional and structural injustices in the education system. After the influx of African Americans to Northern cities during the Great Migration in the early to mid 1900s, the urban schools they attended presented similar racial (and thus, socioeconomic) gaps in funding and resources. In both the North and South, Black youth (if they had the opportunity to attend school) were forced to attend substandard schools that afforded them a low-quality education due to fewer resources and insufficient funding, among other factors. This thwarted academic achievement and paved the way for the present achievement gaps between the races and classes.
Even after the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case in which the Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional, segregation still rears its ugly head in the modern American school system. As we all know, inner city schools, disproportionately composed of low-income minority students, often lack the funding, academic resources, and educational and future opportunities offered to students in predominately White schools. Remnants of the Jim Crow era have been difficult to discard, and the marriage of socioeconomic status and race has generated significant implications for future academic and financial success for our kids. The achievement gap between underprivileged students of color and students hailing from wealthy White locations still exists and affects every facet of life.
So, with an understanding of the history behind the achievement gap, what new solutions might we be able to draw? If things don’t change, how might the achievement gap manifest itself in the future? What would the perfect school system look like?
Written by Cap.the.Gap contributor, Kristen Bryant
To continue from my last post, about the answer to the many challenges young people have – especially those who are labeled “disadvantaged” – I want to share a story or two about my experiences helping young people get into and stay in college. I did identify helping young people stay in high school and supporting them through the career-finding process as the answer.
While I am not straying away from that notion, I want you to know that just because you attempt to accomplish those two tasks does not (…and I mean, DOES NOT!) mean that it will be ‘easy as pie’, as they say.
So here’s the story: I was speaking with a young “disadvantaged” college student about their college experience. But here’s the part of the conversation that pertains to their grades and the quickly approaching end of the semester. Basically, here’s how the story went:
Me: - So what are your current grades?
Young Person #1: – I’m not doing so well. I have a few D’s and C’s.
Me: - Ok. So what are you going to do different within these last few weeks of school?
Young Person #1: – Nothing. I found some new learning strategies that I think will work.
Me: - Ok. And what about accessing all of the tutoring that your school offers,
as well as the tutoring that I am offering you right now?
Young Person #1: - Well, thanks, but I don’t need that. I’m fine.
Me: - But what if what you’re doing doesn’t work the way you’d like it to?
Young Person #1: – I’ll be fine. I know this is the best learning style that fits me. Of course it’s going to work.
Now, I know what I heard. Did you hear the same? I heard a young person turn down the opportunity to access help/support for the college courses they were taking. I reminded them that I was much older than they were and that I had earned 2 degrees – meaning that I just might have some idea of what I was talking about. But after doing so, their answer was still the same. How sad. They were unwilling. What makes this story worse is that I was speaking to a group of young college students when this conversation took place and all of their responses, including how they were doing in school, was the same; the same! Yup – the same! Why is this the case? How can we cap the gap when this is the mentality?
But wait! Cap the Gap is about high school youth – not college. Precisely – but all college students must first be in high school. And their college-minded mindset had to have begun prior to their entrance into college. The fact that they are in college does not absolutely mean that anything has changed – except that they are in college now, not high school. See my point? But I can go even further to explain that some of the high school students I’ve dealt with think the same way. You know what I’m saying is true – it’s the old, “I wanna be stupid and cool versus because being smart and corny” – remember that from your elementary, middle and high school years? It hasn’t changed, just the people have.
So how do we combat this type of thinking? I have to warn you that I don’t have any secret spells, magic, or pills to make society change. But I can share with you something I learned of not too long ago.
The key is to realize that just because a young person is in school, doesn’t mean that they want to learn or that they desire a quality education. In addition to fighting for better educational opportunities, we have to connect with young people where they are – I mean understanding what they desire from education and what their perspective of education is. It even helps to know what their dreams are so that we can help them, logically, understand the connection to education now.
After getting an understand of where their mind is, we can then help them “buy-in” to our notion of what education means, how it can benefit your future, and how it can benefit their friends, etc. It’s like infecting them with a good virus that we want them to spread to others. And when we are connecting to them, it helps to know the 5 stages of change:
Here’s some info below, taken from another website that contains a good explanation: http://www.builtlean.com/2010/06/01/5-stages-of-change-model-which-stage-are-you-in/
Change can happen. And it will. We just have to be careful to meet people where they are and encourage them to see what we see. Which stage are you in – when it comes to accepting your responsibility to help young people close the achievement gap?
Written by Cap.the.Gap contributor, Joshua Cooper
Did the title get your attention? I hope so. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Philly vernacular, allow me to translate. “Philly Cats” are residents; “Young Bulls” are the younger generation; and “wigs pushed backed” is the term used to announce when someone has just been murdered.
So why have I titled my post with such weighty saying? Well, because I think they best describe the audience I am trying to reach, the demographic I am speaking of, and what will happen to this demographic if the Philadelphia School District’s budget is slashed by $623 million dollars. That’s right, facing historic budget deficits, PA Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed to cut state education funding overall by a historic $1 billion dollars. No one has been spared the hatch knife; cuts will start at preschool, go through special education, all the way to higher education. In an effort to stop these devastating cuts I joined a march on Harrisburg on April 27th, 2011 to urge Governor Corbett not to balance the budget on the backs of our “young bulls”.
Here’s a clip from the march: Chris Carter gives speech at march on Harrisburg
Philly Cats had been slow to catch on to the gravity of these cuts, including the students in my Foundations of Early Childhood Development class, who were invited to attend the march with me. You guessed it; all of them had prior engagements. Recently, however the scales have began to shift. Groups are starting to gather in the hundreds and even thousands to oppose these cuts. The Friday, May 27th, Philadelphia Tribute issue featured two such groups. One was a coalition of clergy who gathered at St. Matthews AME Church in West Philadelphia to hold vigil and declared,“If we don’t get education funding, we will block the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.” Another group assembled the youngest protesters—preschoolers—in front of City Hall to ask the city to fill in the gap if Gov. Corbett’s proposed cuts are passed. One-year-old Nasir Sabir joined the protesters holding a sign almost taller then his four-foot frame, which read: “Savor Our Children.”
The sign reads right because we can reason that high-poverty public schools combined with poor funding only reinforces the school-to-prison pipeline. The Governor knows this, and that’s why on top of proposing $623 million dollars in cuts, he plans to spend $250 million to build three new prisons in the state! What type of message does this send to our “Young Bulls”?!
Simply put, we cannot close the achievement gap, nor cap the school-to-prison pipeline unless we adequately fund our schools. Inner-city public schools for decades have been underfunded, which is something Jonathan Kozol’s 1991, blockbuster book, “Savage Inequities,” documents all too well. Under the previous administration of Gov. Ed Rendell that had all began to change. Under Rendell, the Philadelphia school district had been receiving annual increases in funding in an effort to make of up for the decades of neglect.
Gov. Corbett’s cuts cannot be allowed, particularly as they relate to kindergarten and early childhood development centers. Kindergarten is, in my opinion, on the front line in the battle to close the achievement gap. When, according to Jumpstart, 53 percent of low-income children start 1st grade two years behind their peers, we simply cannot afford to cut full day kindergarten to half day and early education programs, as the Governor’s proposed budget would do.
Philly, I hope after reading this post you will be moved to action. In the most simple terms, I hate to use such graphic language, but these cuts will “murder” the dreams of thousands of “Young Bulls”. Please consider joining Cap.the.Gap at the next action! I will be testifying before City Council urging them stop this coming massacre by ensuring funding if Corbett’s budget is passed! Please shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested in getting updates on the next action opportunity to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read. Comment. Join the Movement!
Article Written by Cap.the.Gap creator, Lola O.
A landmark education legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed by Congress in 2002. Its lofty goals to close the achievement gap, focus on accountability of schools, and obtain proficiency for all students in reading and math by 2014, presented a challenge for even the best educators. Fast forward eight years and the goals of NCLB have still not been met. When Obama became Commander in Chief of our country, the education system was still in a state of disarray. Under Obama, the goals of NCLB haven’t changed, but the blueprint for achieving them has.
According to The Department of Education’s blueprint report, Obama’s education agenda requires reforms in the following areas: 1) standards and assessments 2) data systems 3) great teachers and leaders, and 4) turn-around strategies (of low-performing schools). The Obama administration aims to close the achievement gap and restore our country’s position as the world leader in post-secondary school success, and with increased funding and incentive-based programming, perhaps these goals will be achieved.
In this era of increased technological advancements, closer international competition, and higher-stakes decision-making, it’s important to have an education system with high standards that can adequately educate all students, regardless of race or class. Bush, through NCLB, recognized the significance of high student achievement and a closure of the achievement gap for global competition, but he promoted this through harsh, punitive policies. Unfortunately, these policies failed to improve the education system. While many of Obama’s goals are similar, he has approached education reform in a completely different way, putting standards, data systems, teachers, and turnaround strategies at the center of his reform efforts. His comprehensive reforms attempts to overcome America’s contentment with the status quo and blaze a new trail of excellence for the nation’s students.
What do you think of Obama’s blueprint? Do you believe that his education reform policies can adequately close the achievement gap? Are you convinced that the education system can be reformed as a work of the government and federal policy or are you more cynical about the ability of federal legislation and policy to close the achievement gap and promote equality in education?
To learn more about President Obama’s blueprint for NCLB reforms, log on to www.ed.org or watch this visually creative video below:
Thanks! READ,COMMENT AND JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
Written by Cap.the.Gap contributor, Kristen Bryant
Who is to blame for the achievement gap? Every year a new scapegoat surfaces. In the past, principles, teachers, and administrators have all taken the brunt of the blame for some of our failing schools. However, how often do we as parents, grandparents, and guardians evaluate our own contributions towards closing the achievement gap?
According to the Michigan Department of Education,” lack of parent involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools”. There is no excuse for a parent not to take an active interest in their child’s education. There are very simple actions you as a parent can do to not only become involved in your child’s education, but also demonstrate the value of education to your child.
You can set aside a daily scheduled time for your child to finish assignments and study in a quiet area. Set high standards by recognizing and encouraging your child’s achievement and special talents. A parent’s role in their child’s education alone influences the child’s capacity to learn more than any other factor. According to the Michigan Department of Education, “the most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parent expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at school.”.
Take an active interest in your child’s education and your child will do the same. You have the power to greatly influence your child’s education more than any educational institution or societal factor. You should hold yourself accountable to your child’s success in school. Are you content with your child’s failing grades or are you challenging him or her to do better? Take a Stand!
Parents, Cap.the.Gap wants to hear from you! Please share how you are making sure your child doesn’t fall in the achievement gap.
Written by, Cap.the.Gap contributor, Tiffany Clark