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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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On the heels of English as a first language ...
I didn't speak English until I started kindergarten, so I know a little about what I speak.

There is a need for an English peer group for kids of an impressionable age.

Head Start-type programs catch kids before they develop facility to where they don't want to go back almost to square one. Once you learn to cope and reason, and communicate in one language with confidence, it's hard to begin again.

Multi-lingualism is something the U.S. needs to nurture, but to share a strong facility in one core language (among the many) is essential to achieve parity. Variety is great, but a common communication skillset helps meld some divisions which contribute to gang behavior, reduces educational costs, etc.

Personally I sometimes wonder if all-Spanish channels are doing anything good for society. I used to argue the other end of this--it can become a refuge and a prison of sorts. What about Tibetans and Chinese, etc.?

Created on 02/18/05 by E. Gamauf of Eden Prairie, MN

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4.5 rating
(2 votes)
Building students up
As I was reading this article, I felt that people were focusing so much on the racial statistics of the achievement gap instead of focusing on how to make it better. Instead of putting labels on the African American group as being the lower achievers, society needs to be working with them and building up their self-confidence.

Perhaps the problem is that the students of that race are getting labeled as low achievers before they even have to take any tests. Society needs to challenge these students to achieve instead of letting it be known that this group is the lowest achievers. If kids already have a bar set for them that isn't very high, then some may feel they don't need to work any harder, because not achieving is already expected of them. These students need people in their lives the bar high and build up their confidence.

Created on 11/29/04 by Jenni Johnson of Winona, MN

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4 rating
(1 vote)
Pointing fingers won't work
When looking at the achievement gap each group likes to point fingers at the others. Teachers and schools blame parents for not feeding their children or providing exposure to books. Society blames the schools for not providing enough support or extra help for students in need. Others blame the students for being unmotivated or underachievers.

Pointing fingers will not help. All these groups need to come together to help the students. The students are who really matter and who we should all be focused on. Families, schools, teachers, and society all need to focus on the children.

Created on 11/22/04 by Winona State University Student of Winona, MN

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1.5 rating
(6 votes)
Stop ignoring I.Q. differences
Why does this paper consistently ignore the most likely explanation of the so-called "achievement-gap"--racial differences in I.Q.? You should at least acknowledge the existence of substantial evidence for these differences as documented in the works of Professors Arthur Jensen and J. Philippe Rushton and as addressed in Murray and Herrnstein's "Bell Curve."

(See, e.g. Race, Evolution, and Behavior [.pdf file]) To consistently ignore this evidence constitutes a journalistic disservice and breach of faith with your readers.

Created on 11/20/04 by James Russell of White Plains, NY

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3 rating
(1 vote)
Employer support for sending volunteers to read with children
As a parent and volunteer with 8 years experience in St. Paul public schools I know the value of spending just 30 minutes to one hour per week reading with a child. Employers have a wonderful opportunity to invest in the future lives of future workers by giving their employees one hour off per week, paid time like lunch often is covered, to volunteer at a local school reading with elementary age children.

I've learned from teachers in my children's schools that it is just as critical to have a volunteer labor pool work one-on-one, especially with below fluency and grade level readers, as it is is to have a volunteer labor pool for site councils and the PTA.

I recommend that each company in every city, and even public sector employers, calculate the potential upside for having their employees take off one hour a week to read with a child in terms of future return on investment. If a child continues reading below grade level it becomes nearly impossible to ever catch up.

Created on 10/19/04 by Stacey Millett of St. Paul, MN

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4.5 rating
(2 votes)
Retiree volunteers
As baby boomers retire, many are vigorous, well-educated and affluent. They may want to make a contribution to their community. A volunteer corps should be organized so that those willing to do the work could join for the purpose of tutoring students on a one-to-one basis in the subject matter where they are having difficulty.

Very young students may need someone just to listen to them practice their reading or math. Characteristics: no pay for volunteers, a time commitment to do the tutoring for a certain number of weeks at a particular time every week, volunteer must show up faithfully, hours available will be at the convenience of the school and student.

It would probably be good for the volunteer to work with the same student every week in order to encourage rapport between the two. Should the student (1st to 12th grade) overcome his/her difficulty, then they would be finished receiving extra help unless or until difficulty recurs.

Created on 10/14/04 by Theresa Forsythe of Apple Valley, MN

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How society must help close the gap--part 2
Jonathan Kozol questions how our society can allow the funding and achievement gap to exist in our “civilized” society in his book Savage Inequalities (1991).

As long as those who are served with opportunity don’t see it in their interest to close the gap in schooling and beyond, we will continue to allow the gap to exist. One of the biggest false rationalizations for ignoring or accepting unequal educational opportunity in our society is belief in the myth that our society is based solely on merit and how hard one works. There are a lot of people of color who work much harder and longer than I’ll ever work for a fraction of the pay and benefits I have received in my middle class profession.

Society should hold high standards for students, teachers, parents and schools, but those standards must be more than narrowly defined pieces of information and standardized tests.

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

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5 rating
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How society must help close the gap--part 1
• Institutionalized racism is not only present in schools, but it is widespread in our society. Closing the achievement gap in schools with students of color who have been historically underserved and white students requires society working to close the gap in family incomes, home ownership, health care, criminal justice, etc.

African American, Latino and Native American youth and families have survived centuries of oppression in relation to schooling and beyond, and yet there still is not equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream. My two white children started their lives with an advantage having two parents who love each other, are employed with middle class income, are educated with college degrees, and have access to good health care and housing.

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

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5 rating
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Perspectives from a Minority Forum on Education
The Policy Roundtable (MN) hosted a forum on minority perspectives on educational issues. Here are some core recommendations:

- While minorities are supportive of the recent legislation bringing more accountability in K-12 education, they also insist that the child should be the center of all education reforms and that testing should not take the place of the holistic development of the child.

- There needs to be more systematic data collected on classroom size, in-school vs. out-of-school suspension, textbook availability and usage, and parental involvement. This information needs to be linked to individual student performance.

- We need to better coordinate the training of teachers with the needs of the schools to ensure that our new teachers have both high academic standards as well as cultural competency.

- Finally, there should be adequate resources allocated to the proper implementation of K-12 educational reforms.

Created on 10/12/04 by Bruce Corrie of Saint Paul, MN

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2.5 rating
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English as a FIRST language
I agree that children should be required to know conversational English before they go to school. The teachers are expected to "make the difference," but what difference can they make when children can't communicate? Parents of children who cannot speak English should be required to take conversational English as well. How do you tell parents how their child does if you can't communicate with them either?

Getting to know your community classes/nights should be required as well. Socialization skills are key in inner-city schools and if you don't know your neighbors, how do you expect your children to? More discussion between parents will bring better students and in turn better schools.

Created on 10/12/04 by Renee Zeilbeck of Bloomington, MN

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5 rating
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Don't be isolationist....
As a society we have become compartmentalized. In the fifties everybody knew their neighbor, and people communicated more in general. In these whitewater times it is difficult for children to understand the communication styles of other people because much of what they learn is from at home--good and bad.

The only way to sharpen your claws as far as communication and social skills is to use them and use them often. Community-based cognitive behavioral interventions may help kids learn to communicate and problem solve more effectively.

Created on 10/11/04 by Mat Olson of Duluth, MN

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Seize the day
As a society, members of the community, and parents of children and youth in the state educational systems should create and support a Govener declared State wide "Appreciation Day for Educators and Staff". We should set aside one day in the year were communities can organize events and activities to celebrate all those that contribute to the success of our schools. Be it those that maintain the school, provide administrative leadership or teach in the classrooms, all need to be appreciated.

In doing so we will all be united on one day to education. If only for one day, we will be together as one and build community. As we build community we can use this day to remind us of the core values of education and the worth of students. It could include speakers, workshops and roundtables to review, and discuss better ways and practices that will increase learner achievement. The more we show our value of education to our learners the more value they will put it in their lives.

Created on 10/08/04 by Tex Ostvig of Long Lake, MN

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5 rating
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Businesses need to invest in society!
Top corporations should be setting up, and paying for educational centers in impoverished areas. Free colleges should be created and funded by these businesses in every poverty stricken area in America! Then, these businesses should be required to hire the students when they graduate.

How could they afford all this? Please, these businesses are making billions of dollars A YEAR, much of it is tax-free! It would take time, but these people have proven that they are innovative, fiscally savvy, and capable of making something out of nothing.

I work for a Minnesota company that gives 10% back to the community every year! It is a company that started in a shed by two women with a good idea eight years ago, and is now a multi-million dollar company! They have built a Habitat House, paid a full-time worker to volunteer at local non-profits that need people's time as much as money, and bought land to preserve it. This company is making a huge difference. Why aren't more?

Created on 10/08/04 by Amy Amsbaugh of Zumbrota, MN

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3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Education discrimination and money
Exists today, not just yesterday. As the public school deteriorated, I, a former public school teacher, had to admit it was a losing battle. I enrolled my daughter in private school. We self segregated. Here I found all the ruling elites sending their kids to a vastly superior school.

Education discrimination is purchased by ruling elites. The public schools are unable to be all things to all people. Class separation is increased, not decreased, by education. The ruling elites want it that way. Harvard and Yale are open to all, who have the $40,000 a year and the high test scores they learned to get at their private schools.

Education is probably one of the primary sources of racism and maintaining a racially segregated society by money, not skin color. Wealthy blacks and whites have more in common than wealthy whites and poor whites.

It's all about the money, not education. Like they say in the movies, "Show me the money". Who are we kidding?

Created on 10/07/04 by Jack Goldman of St. Paul, MN

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5 rating
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Multidimentional problem needs multidimentional solution
There are many good ideas!

It all starts in educating our leaders and decision-makers as well as the public of how crucial it is to put our resources into the education (formal and informal) of everyone in society. Thanks to MPR for getting the conversation started!

We must change selfish and short-sighted attitudes such as:

1. "I don't have any kids. Why should I support our (public or private) schools?"

2. "My kids are in private schools. Why should I have to pay for what my family doesn't use?"

3. "If you are poor or underpriviledged, it's your fault, not mine."

4. "Get married! Raise your kids right--Even though I don't give a hoot what happens to you."

5. "Jesus said, 'the poor you will always be with you' so I should I go against what Jesus says?"

What should we say to these people? How do we get them to see that someone may be taking care of them in a nursing home, paying taxes, FICA, etc.?

Created on 10/07/04 by Margaret Catambay of Minneapolis, MN

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0 rating
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Achievement gap
It is a false assumption to blame Minnesota and government for students achievement gaps. If the primary function of education is to socialize, then achievement is up to the students and their ultimate employer, not some imaginary fake yardstick the public school teachers decide to use.

It is a false assumption to think government can force people to do their homework when government can't force people to stay married or force them to prevent crimes. How can you force kids to do better? How can you force adults to do better? We have a free system and the price of freedom is the freedom to fail.

Without a gap, without failure, all we have is Communism, a failed system.

The gap is natural, normal, and within each minority group there are additional gaps. How about studying what works for each success story. May I recommend the book, "What Smart Students Know" by Adam Robinson. Read it. You will be surprised.

Created on 10/07/04 by Jack Goldman of St. Paul, MN

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1 rating
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Love the racial achievement gap
All groups or test subjects will have a gap. There is a gap between men and women, blacks and whites, Jews and Christians, old and young, Americans and Europeans. All statistics show a gap between individuals or groups.

In 1994, 79% of all black children in Minnesota were on welfare, the statistic decreases to Native Americans, then Latinos at 30% on welfare. For Whites it was 6%. Hebrews were zero. Why? Each group has had different exposure to reading and education over the past two thousand years.

Everyone is excellent at something. There is always a gap between all individuals and all groups. Should all baseball players and sports figures have the same statistics? How do we close the gap between their performance? How do we close the gap between the wealthy and poor incomes?

I love the gap. It should not be closed. The more government tries to homogenize us, breed us, quota us, the closer we get to Communism. Love the gap. It will solve itself. Get over it.

Created on 10/07/04 by Jack Goldman of St. Paul, MN

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0 rating
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Vacation time for time devoted to minority tutoring/mentoring
Employers have a stake in reversing the achievement gap. One of the long-term ways to sustain a strong Minnesota economy is to invest not only money but time in the development of tomorrow's workforce. Minnesota's workforce will continue to become more ethnically diverse, and if the achievement gap continues, tomorrow's workforce will be less prepared to meet employers' labor needs.

Programs like the Read, Read, Read program -- connecting volunteers with children to help them learn to read or improve their reading skills -- is the type of program employers should encourage their staff to participate in. Similarly, time devoted to mentoring programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters should also be encouraged. Matching hours could be given in the same way matching dollars are to monetary charitable contributions, e.g. four hours per month of time devoted equals two hours per month more vacation time. Tax breaks, public recognition, and other incentives could be utilized to motivate employers to participate.

Created on 10/06/04 by Mary-Margaret Zindren of St. Paul, MN

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Over half of Minnesota's Kindergarteners start school unprepared to learn
In 2003 the Minnesota Department of Education's Readiness Study showed that over 50% of Minnesota's Kindergartners start school unprepared to learn in mathematical thinking, language and literacy, social development and physical development. Education and family income appear to be related to kindergarten readiness.

That suggests the root problem is a societal problem already in place before children start kindergarten. Therefore, more funding is needed for Head Start and other early childhood programs, and support for undereducated and poor families.

(See ST. Louis Park Sun Sailor, Thurs., Aug. 26, 2004 "Some Children Aren't Ready for Kindergarten" by Joe Kieser)

Created on 10/06/04 by Clara James of St. Louis Park, MN

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5 rating
(2 votes)
Give the gift of early reading skills
The truth: Without the gift of early reading skills, all children are behind before they even start kindergarten.

The gift: Only an individual gift delivers early reading skills at age three, four and five. This is the key to opportunity. It is society’s best (effective and lowest cost) approach to preparing the bottom half of the bottom half (poorest of the poor) to want the opportunities, choices and engagement.

The focus: When 100% of the children start kindergarten ready to read English, the urban school has the resources to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress requirement of No Child Left Behind.

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

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4 rating
(7 votes)
Citizens of Minnesota: C- for effort
Don't blame the achievement gap on the educational system. Educators will attempt to do their part to close the gap, but can't go it alone.

The largest single indicator of student achievement is the income of their parents. Over 20% of our children live in poverty in the United States. This contrasts to under 4% of children living in poverty in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Poverty is the result of the choice Americans have made to have a large middle and upper class which consumes with gusto while allowing our children in poverty to flounder.

Our neighboring state of Wisconsin supports all-day kindergarten for public school students (On Wisconsin!) Minnesota's financial commitment to early education and K-12 education has gone from the top ten in the US to the lower quartile.

Educators are not able to "close the gap" with elementary class sizes of over 30 and the erosion of educational funding.

Hold citizens of our state accountable. Give us a C- for effort

Created on 10/04/04 by Allen Saunders of Hastings, MN

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5 rating
(2 votes)
Make sure children have role models
Everyone fundamentally depends on love to support them through life. I believe that a child might be economically disadvantaged but still be able to achieve academic excellence if they have a stable, loving role model in their life.

Each child should be professionally evaluated to find out if they have someone who they truly feel loves them unconditionally and challenges them to want to learn. Children without such support should be matched with long-term mentors who have been selected based on high standards.

These mentors could be high school students who by serving as a mentor for four years to a child lacking a good role model would be given a full scholorship to college. I also believe that all children not only need immunizations as a requirement to attend school but also need a complete eye exam and hearing exam as well. 80% of learning is through vision and economically challenged parents might not be able to afford these exams to discover these health barriers to learning.

Created on 10/04/04 by Madelaine Haddican of Roseville, MN

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0 rating
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Education is not a choice, it's a must
The idea that education is one of many options contributes to the achievement gap.

In most minority communities the views that there are many alternative ways of success like (drug dealing, sports, etc.) have considerably lowered the esteem of education. In order to want to be a high achiever at something, one must hold a high esteem for that thing. Closing the achievement gap will require us to think differently, to influence the creation of role models, to increase the self-esteem of youth.

Because most of the children in low-income communities are so constantly bombarded with images of "high rollers" who made it off music, sports (or selling drugs), and the fame earned thereafter, it is obvious that they may not want to endure the late night studying for a meager salary of a teacher of social worker.

The miscalculation is the probability of success of one versus the other, and the fact that education doesn't just make us rich, it makes us better with each other.

Created on 10/04/04 by Lucien Solefack of South Saint Paul, MN

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3.5 rating
(2 votes)
The problems is inaccurately defined
The two leading indicators of a child's success in school are: education and income level of the parent. The racial gap is much more accurately a class gap and an income gap, plus an immigration gap, since many African-Americans and most Hispanics are relatively recent immigrants from economically poorer regions and backgrounds. Plus a stability gap, indicated by multiple school moves each year, a trememdous handicap to learning.

Disaggregating the data by income, education and stability levels would reveal a persistent poverty, recent immigrant and stability gap. This is also a serious problem, but not the same as a racial problem, relieving African-American and Hispanic families from being bludgeoned by just such stories as this one by MPR, a result of the state and nation's well-meaning commitment to emphasize racial rather than economic and class data.

The solution: set a baseline for the educational needs of a middle-class classroom, then ADD resources to the degree classrooms containing students of poverty -- including stable all-day school and summer school for those from the most challenged families and communities.

Statistically, this is the best shot.

Created on 09/28/04 by James Lenfestey of Minneapolis, MN

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3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Recognize, respect and value diversity
Educators, parents and community leaders must work together to provide an inclusive education for children. Recognising cultural diversity in the curriculum and throughout the school community allows children to identify themselves with learning and achievement.

It is the first and most important step to closing the achievement gap between white children (whose history and culture is the basis of the current curriculum) and children of color.

This is not, however, a simple undertaking. Educators need training and resources preparing them to incorporate multicultural content, strategies and policies into the schools. Further, educators and students from differing cultural, socio-economic, racial, religious and geographic backgrounds need forums to discuss issues affecting their daily lives.

The Minnesota Inclusiveness Program has been slowly, but successfully addressing the achievement gap in these ways. More schools around the state should use this program.
www.miprog.org.

Created on 09/28/04 by Mary Barrow of Tonka Bay, MN

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0 rating
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Orating - A Societal Problem
Due to our societal listening disorder, my original idea was placed in the category of 'Other' instead of 'Society'. I see this as evidence that we don't know how to "hear" w/ our eyes.

Our education system promotes learning visually, yet as infants we are wired for sound. Our culture offers a wide array of distractions for troubled youth, yet we limit education to reading & instruction.

Make the reading "real". Utilize technology to make it convenient to listen while we read. Wireless headphones & a remote player, directed at first to those who seek distraction from our current methods. We must compete with those distractions. See "Retrieving the Fourth 'R'", filed under "Other".

Created on 09/27/04 by Bruce Wakefield of Inver Grv. Hgts., MN

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1 rating
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Help refugees and illegal aliens
It is difficult for refugees who hope to go back to their country, and the people from Mexico, who are here illegally and don't know if they will be sent back to Mexico at any given time, to decide that their children will work diligently on learning English because they are afraid of what would happen if they went back to their former country and their children didn't know the language.

It will take a lot of PR work to bring these families to meetings to teach them why their children need to learn the language. This needs to be a grass roots operation which works to get the leaders of the communities to begin to encourage the other members of the refugee or illegal alien communities to come to meetings to discuss their roll in their children's education.

Our schools may be in trouble because the families have a very difficult decision to make. Hopefully we can encourage them to work on learning English so they can learn in our schools.

Created on 09/27/04 by Joanne Rasmussen of lAustin, MN

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5 rating
(5 votes)
Not another program! Start pulling in the same direction.
Minnesota’s achievement gap is not going to be solved by one more quick-fix program – it is going to take intense collaboration among educators, lawmakers, families and community groups around a comprehensive solution.

Countless education initiatives have been independently sponsored by businesses, foundations, districts and government entities with little improvement in minority achievement. Each group focuses on their own area of expertise. For example, teachers unions advocate better teacher salaries and smaller class size; legislators focus on standards and funding formulas; superintendents urge easing mandates and red tape. These fragmented efforts are pulling in different directions, causing schools more pain than relief.

Schools are exhausted by the burden of program overload, skeptical of the latest flavor-of-the-month initiative, and deflated by the ever-tightening handcuffs of “the system”. Minnesota’s achievement gap may not be caused by these fragmented efforts but it likely persists because of it.

We need to pull together, focus on a comprehensive, workable solution for all Minnesota students and ease the burden of 1000 initiatives.

Created on 09/27/04 by Susan Wollan Fan of Minneapolis, MN

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4 rating
(4 votes)
Student responsibility
Why is there no category which looks at student responsibility for their own learning? The schools, with the backing of society, should take a page from welfare reform and put more responsibility on students for their own education.

The subcultures which denigrate academic achievement might change if the right to remain in a given program or school were based on 1)school attendance, 2) behavior in school, 3)attentiveness in class, and 4) completion of homework.

Those students who fail to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them should be sent to a different, less desirable, program so that the environment in the regular classroom is not diluted by the negative forces of poor attendance, poor behavior, lack of attentiveness, or failure to do homework.

When members of athletic teams do not show up for practice, behave properly, or be attentive at practice, they are dropped from the team. The same standard should apply in school.

Created on 09/26/04 by Gretchen Wheelwright, Ph.D. of Minneapolis, MN

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5 rating
(1 vote)
It's all of the above, but then it's not.
The issue is so complex that every opinion has truth and every idea looks like THE ONE. Unfortunately, they are all predicated upon what we overlook most--the condition of the student.

Are the students truly able to take advantage? Do they really believe it will make a difference? When we answer no, income is offered as an explanation. However, offering this offers little for intervention.

If all the poor families were given money to be non-poor, the gap would remain. Unless we increase social network quality. That is why Black middle-class students are more likely to do better in school. They are more likely exposed to those who: believe success is possible, are encouraged intellectually, and have ties to models.

The families are better able to access resources to resolve a learning or behavioral problem, a lack of focus, or single-parent stressors. A reading program would be enhanced if Joe’s peers read, a college friend suggested books, and an engineer he knew said,"I had to read."

Created on 09/24/04 by Na'im Madyun of Saint Paul, MN

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4 rating
(6 votes)
Racial - ethnic achievement gap is an artifact
While it appears that there has been a consistent racial and ethnic achievment gap when minority groups are compared to whites, it is an artifact due to the confounding of social class with these groups.

For example, there are differences in income and education levels between blacks, ethnic minorities and whites. And these variables of education and income are part of what determines social class.

What we really have is an achievement gap between social classes, and each social class is characterized by its own cultural beliefs, values, and behaviors. If one controls social class, and compares racial and ethnic minorities with whites, the gap disappears.

See the research of Jane Mercer as support of this contention. In general, if the culture of the home (beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors) match the culture of the classroom, the students do well academically regardless of the student's race or ethnicity.

Created on 09/21/04 by Jay Samuels of st paul, MN

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5 rating
(1 vote)
Get involved!
A child needs to be supported by the community and by that meaning teachers, fellow students, family and the community in which they live. The key to success is communication and follow through.

The teachers will excel if offered the correct environment. They also need to be trained to teach, not the particular subject area, but also the environment in which one teaches.

Knowing the culture of the school and the community will help the teacher better address the needs of the students.

Students will rise to the level of expectation and teachers need to raise their standards for all students. Sometimes the barriers to student learning are not in the educational process but the environmental factors, i.e. hunger, transportation, money for school supplies etc. The teacher needs to be trained about the culture of the student.

The other issue is how the test is written. The test is written for the mainstream population so test considerations should be given for language differences.

Created on 09/20/04 by Lisa Tappe-Plummer of Prior Lake, MN

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4 rating
(5 votes)
Reduce racist perspective
Compare test scores for family economic status. Rich black kids do better than poor white kids. Two-parent black families that can afford to have mom at home do better than white kids from single-parent, impoverished families.

To focus on race is in my opinion misguided.

Diet, family assistance, personal discipline, and economic status of family make more sense as categories to compare than race or height or sex or brown eyes or blue eyes.

If the child comes to school ready and has assistance and personal discipline at home, even I could help them do well. Tired and undisciplined kids are more than almost anyone can handle unless in very small groups allowing the teacher to be a parent substitute or supplement.

I have had experience with both types and my views come from my personal experience!

Created on 09/20/04 by Herbert Davis of Sauk Centre, MN

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2 rating
(1 vote)
Raise social expectations
A proposed program (not a solution) is to integrate a class into the urban school system for all students that focuses on holding all students to the same standards despite cultural differences -- and recognizes obstacles to academic success while finding contructive ways to conquer them.

It seems that the expectations for minorities as far as academic performance is concerned are low due in part to so many cultural pulls that offer alternatives to an education.

For example, in the African American community, the expectation is for teens to become weapon-toting criminals by the age of 15. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon outcome for many urban teens. Statistics, not stereotypes, show that youth violence is higher in those communities than in suburbia and within other minority populations, along with crime, drug use, and illiteracy.

This means that it's not the media or the government that is forcing the African American population into crime and unemployment. It's recent cultural history.

Created on 09/20/04 by Kendal Beer of Minneapolis, MN

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4.5 rating
(4 votes)
Grassroots ad campaign
A grassroots ad campaign should be undertaken to highlight the accomplishments of minorities in fields other than sports.

The people we love in our communities should also be highlighted. They can tell on a personal level what they think of parents who neglect their duties to educate and nurture their children. People like Bill Cosby can do more to effect a change in this area far better than any milquetoast government program.

Created on 09/20/04 by Raymond Rainer of Oakdale, MN

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3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Place academic disparities in larger context

We have to address the achievement gap as a civil rights issue. Students of color are forced to make this connection at an early age. Only after working through years of teachers that cannot or will not discuss these realities do our kids leave.

We often try to address or fix a problem in isolation. With the achievement gap, and No Child Left Behind, we tend to think that schools leave children behind when in fact, our society leaves sectors of its citizens behind and their children go to school.

Racial disparities exist in income levels, quality of health care, mortality rates, incarceration rates, etc.

By shining a spotlight on the disparities in schools, we should be forcing ourselves to make explicit the connections between all disparities.

All students need teachers that can discuss disparities in all their ugliness. Teacher training programs need to prepare teachers to do this. Until students of color connect with teachers that can do this, they will continue to disengage.

Created on 09/17/04 by Tim Brown of Saint Paul, MN

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4 rating
(4 votes)
Churches, community meeting places as tutorial centers
In order to close the gap, our community must take a more active role in the success of our youth.

One idea is for churches and community centers to become tutorial centers for reading, math and general homework assistance.

This would serve two purposes: It would provide a place for your youth to go after school so that they are not in the streets. And it would allow them to get the assistance they need in academics.

Schools could also serve in the role of after-school learning areas. They should seek out retired teachers or community volunteers and allow them to assist students in the respective schools in homework and test preparation.

Funding for all of this should be provided through the No Child Left Behind Act from the federal government.

Created on 09/15/04 by Rev. Devin Miller of Saint Paul, MN

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4.5 rating
(6 votes)
Attacking the culture of non-achievement
This is tough, but it's possible a part of the problem might come from a culture of non-achievement among youth. Academic learning is not always highly valued in the youth culture. This could be a contributing factor in the performance gap. We should talk about this possibility, certainly. Solutions are harder. One answer might be to identify high-potential students in communities of color and help them to move ahead successfully, so they could serve as role models for others.

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

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