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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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