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The Education Achievement Gap: Minnesota's Embarrassment
The Achievement Gap: Idea Generator
September, 2004

The Education Achievement Gap

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Backing the money
There seems to be a huge problem in this country. When it comes to good ideas, the money goes missing. Where is the money for No Child Left Behind? This issue is contributing to the achievement gap. No money to help teachers and schools trying their best to help these children who are in need of support. Before No Child Left Behind was written, serious consideration to where the money was going to come from should have been taken into consideration.

Yet, here Americans are in another "money crisis" and making laws which require more money but don't say where it is coming from. Show me where the money is coming from and how it is all going to pan out! Our schools need money to better educate our students and yet this continues to not happen. Educators, parents, school board members, community members, and students need to know where and how the No Child Left Behind Act is going to work financially. It is time we get some answers.

Created on 11/28/04 by Sara Wolff of Winona, MN

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3.5 rating
(5 votes)
Invest money in education not incarceration
The solution to fixing the racial achievement gap is to shift spending from incarceration to education. Currently approximately 80% of the inmates housed in minimum security prisons are drug offenders. Of those 80%, the majority are non-white. Once released from prison, they are likely to offend again. These prisoners are not contributing to their families, nor society.

We must stop the cycle of addiction. We must focus on keeping familes together. Mandatory sentencing for drug offenders has been detrimental to the education of non-white families. We begin by ending mandatory sentencing for drug offenders. Allow judges latitude in determining which offenders are a threat to society. Next, the money that would have been spent on these prisoners should be invested in keeping families together and addressing drug addiction. Strong families, self worth, hope for the future; this will bridge the racial achievement gap.

Created on 10/14/04 by Joanna Engstrom of Minneapolis, MN

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2.5 rating
(3 votes)
Misplaced spending priorities & inequitable funding
Over the past two decades, more than half of the states in our country have had court cases challenging the inequity of funding systems for urban public school students where most of their students of color go to school. Equity does not mean equality; equity means providing resources according to need and our government must devote the resources to close the gap (teacher pay, teacher training, teacher time, updated facilities, curriculum and technology, etc.) like it easily does in spending billions on prisons and war without public referenda to raise taxes.

As long as the "haves" in our society continue to support school funding based on local property taxes for a significant portion of revenues, we will continue to have an achievement gap by choice or design.

Created on 10/14/04 by Paul Spies of Minneapolis, MN

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4.5 rating
(79 votes)
Universal Tuition Tax Credit
The UTTC facilitates parental school choice by ending the penalty on parents and others who both pay taxes to support public schools and pay tuition at alternative schools.

The key to the “Universal” Tuition Tax Credit concept is that it allows any taxpayer (individual or corporate, parent or grandparent, neighbor or friend) to contribute to the education of any K-12 child (relative, neighbor’s child or to a low-income student scholarship fund) at any Minnesota K-12 school (public or private).

The UTTC is a direct dollar-for-dollar tax credit against one’s Minnesota tax liability. The maximum allowed tax credit per student is 50 percent of the state per pupil cost for public education, so public schools retain funds even when students opt out.

The incentive for individuals and business to contribute is that the tuition donor receives the same dollar-for-dollar tax credit as a parent would receive.

All payments are made directly to schools in a child’s name.

Created on 10/12/04 by Craig Westover of Afton, MN

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1.5 rating
(6 votes)
Require top companies to invest!
There are businesses in America that are making millions of dollars in profit every year. I believe that the owners and boards of these companies have proven their proficiency in investment, innovation, management, development, etc. Why shouldn't we expect some social leadership from these companies? After all, we are the people that work their minimum wage jobs, buy their products and services, and provide the infrastructure for their success.

Therefore, I believe that instead of relying solely on the government to provide programs, we need to set up high expectations for community involvement from at least the top ten companies in America.

To improve parent participation:

- Set up local literacy programs. Not just giving out books, but paid time off for reading a certain ammount of books to each child every month. Companies provide books, a local action group to administer the program, and paid leave. Every parent has 5 minutes to read to their child, and would find the time if they had a greater incentive. Start in hospital at birth.

- Paid, licensed, high-quality childcare for single parents and working families that make less than $15,000 per year.

- Set up a paid leave program so parents can spend time at their child's school. This gets the parents in the school teaming up with teachers, investing time in the child's education, or perhaps attending an in-school workshop that educates and enhances parental skills.

- Businesses encourage parental involvement in at-home-work by offering the chance to earn a free computer, basic necessities, education, transportation, etc. Reward parents who sign off on homework every night, attend teacher conferences with an interpreter, and have consistant parent/teacher communication. (For immigrant families - offer communications in their language!)

Created on 10/08/04 by Jessica Sundheim of Ortonville, MN

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4 rating
(10 votes)
Invest in early childhood education
The word is out via the work of the Minnesota Federal Reserve Bank that Early Childhood Education gives future society a cost reduction. Expect a return for your money.

See the December 2003 supplement: The ABCs of EDC. With a 16% internal rate of return and a study of when and where the savings would apply one must conclude to start now with the innovation within the present funding streams and the money can be saved to pay back cost of the change.

Can the urban public school principal generate this savings, when 100% of the children starting school are ready to read? Less special education; fewer behavior specialists; less remedial reading instruction; fewer failures to progress; less English as a second language; larger class sizes; can all be expected? On top of this, the larger benefits do not happen in the schools; the community should be prompting the principals to make the effort; and helping principals succeed.

Created on 10/06/04 by Tom Wolfgram of Maple Grove, MN

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5 rating
(3 votes)
College assistance for those with good grades
In Tennessee, and perhaps other states, you can go to state colleges for little or no money if your GPA meets a certain level. Therefore, students see a real need to do well in high school. The assistance is color-blind, and blind to financial need and athletic ability. They have truly put their money where there mouth is and made it possible for all who work hard to continue their education. Come on Minnesota - we can do better by our youth!!!!

Created on 09/28/04 by Susan Marsh of Minneapolis, MN

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3.5 rating
(9 votes)
Adequate funding
Increase funding for schools to levels comparable (per pupil) to levels of the late 1990s. This means including adjustments for inflation, increased health care insurance costs, increased transportation costs (price of fuel), and other items. Adequate funding, similar to that of the late '90s, would allow smaller classes size and other improvements which would help schools and benefit society.

Created on 09/25/04 by Janet Keysser of Golden Valley, MN

9 comments | Vote/comment on this entry

4.5 rating
(2 votes)
Return lottery ticket sales proceeds to neighborhoods
Return some portion of the Minnesota Lottery Ticket sales to the neighborhoods where the tickets are purchased.

I think the whole concept of state-sponsored gambling is ridiculous and whatever money it generates for schools will be offset by funding cuts of another kind. However returning money to neighborhood schools could empower a struggling community which is quite worthwhile in and of itself.

Created on 09/24/04 by Ed Vogel of Minneapolis, MN

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4.5 rating
(6 votes)
Money for schools not for war
The learning gap is a reflection of misplaced priorities. We seem to have endless dollars to fund death and destruction in Iraq while neglecting education and basic needs of our children.

We have the knowledge base to address the current learning gap and many excellent programs in place such as Title 1 funding and special education services; unfortunately these programs are chronically underfunded.

When the legislation was passed in 1972 creating our special education programs the federal government was mandated to cover 54% of the cost of programming with states providing the balance. The feds have never covered more than 17% of the costs for the services they mandated. Similarly the current “No Child Left Behind” legislation is filled with punitive mandates and endless testing requirements but fails the schools in providing the dollars needed to carry out those mandates.

Created on 09/23/04 by David Winkler-Morey of Minneapolis, MN

6 comments | Vote/comment on this entry

4.5 rating
(16 votes)
Teach American Sign Language along with language arts classes
One of the most cost-effective ways I see to bridge the achievement gap is to begin teaching American Sign Language (ASL) along with traditional language arts classes in schools and early childhood education settings.

This tool has been empirically demonstrated to significantly increase the size of African American children's vocabulary scores. A '92 study by Marilyn Daniels, professor of speech communication at Penn State University and author of Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children's Literacy, found that additional sign language instruction brought the scores of African American students in her study close to those typically achieved by white students (normally 15 points higher).

Other researchers have found a 12-pt. average IQ score increase in children who have learned how to sign as babies and toddlers. I teach parents and Head Start teachers how to use this powerful tool with infants, toddlers and preschoolers with great success and believe schools should incorporate ASL.

Created on 09/22/04 by Denise Meyer of Woodbury, MN

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5 rating
(3 votes)
Closely study impact of performance and incentive pay
We should carefully study the impact of performance pay in the few test districts that have tried it, to see if it really works to increase study achievement (and close the gap). We should also use incentive pay to get good teachers into the toughest schools (read: urban schools with higher numbers of minority students). We need to reward the results we want.

Created on 09/20/04 by John Farrell of St. Anthony, MN

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4 rating
(7 votes)
Tracking dollars by school
Today the state allocates more dollars for poor or disadvantaged students. But it doesn't give the money to the students or to their schools.

The state sends the money to the district. The district then allocates money to schools. And in some cities the districts send more money to the schools with the less-disadvantaged kids - because these are the schools where the senior (and higher-salaried) teachers choose to work.

The public, parents, need to be informed about this. The information is there. The state now calculates the revenue the kids bring to their school, and reports this on its web site. And the state is now requiring districts to report expenditures by school - using actual rather than average teacher salaries. This will bring the intra-district disparities to light. Will the media publish this? Who will?

Created on 09/14/04 by Ted Kolderie of Saint Paul, MN

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