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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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3 rating
(2 votes)
Require Urban Learner Certification for metro area school teachers
Research indicates that a child must be engaged in the learning process before you can teach him/her and that urban learners (as defined by race, ethnicity and socio-economic factors) are students with unique educational challenges.

Therefore, all Metro Area schools (esp. St. Paul and Minneapolis public schools) should require that their teachers (new & tenured) are certified as Urban Educators.

Both Hamline University and Metro State have programs that deal with the educational reality that students from diverse backgrounds tend to have fewer behaviorial problems with those adults (teachers, educational assistants, volunteers) who are from a similar background than with teachers from non-similar backgrounds.

It is impractical to replace the current slate of tenured teachers with a mix of teachers that better reflects the demographics of public school students. So, while school administrators figure out a way to train, recruit and attract teachers from more diverse backgrounds, requiring an urban teaching certification is a viable short-term alternative--paid with district dollars.

Created on 09/22/04 by Rita Burch of St Paul, MN

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3 rating
(5 votes)
Teachers are the solution
It seems ironic to me that the introduction to this project would end with a quote by Secretary Rod Paige. His indictment of the National Educator's Association as a terrorist organization should never be forgotten.

I think that the road to narrowing the achievement gap runs directly through the ideology of statements like those made by the Secretary. Anyone who knows a good teacher, especially a new teacher who's destined to be great, knows how hard they work for all their students.

The best teachers work above and beyond the expected hours because it is a job that requires nothing less. I think that administrators all the way up to the national office of the Secretary of Education should recognize this--not just in ceremonies but in pay stubs.

When pay and appreciation for teachers rises dramatically, so too will the level of education, character, and ability of those who dare to undertake the profession. Not to mention their pride, which Paige attempted (and failed) to walk on.

Created on 09/22/04 by Paul Tigan of Alamosa, CO

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5 rating
(4 votes)
Connect with students: Empower learners
Take the time to know the student. They need to learn to understand; so do we. Teens have a completely different culture than adults. Adults need to listen to learn what students' lives are all about. The music they like, their living situation, their employment out of school - all these factors come into play in connecting with students.

Eric Hoffer says, "Kids don't care what you know unless they know that you care." Recognizing the important contributions of his/her own people helps teens to feel like they can contribute too. When students are empowered and think teachers believe in them, they develop an internal "permission" to invest energy into the learning process. That is the key to learning and that's also where character building begins - when the student sits up straighter, begins to take an interest in his own academic success, and sees his or her potential as a contributor.

Parents and teachers can't close this gap alone. Respected and empowered students will.

Created on 09/22/04 by Helen Etnier of Deephaven, MN

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4 rating
(4 votes)
Higher salary for harder work
A key factor that I havent noticed yet in this discussion is mobility. Schools with a higher percentage of students of color also tend to have higher mobility rates (students move in or out of the attendance area)

Every new student and every student that leaves is extra work for the teacher: paperwork, evaluations, helping the child adjust, etc. It is much easier to teach in a stable population.

In a classroom that has remained stable all year, a teacher can say "remember when we...." and they all do remember because they were all there. When the teacher has to back up and reteach, it takes time away from what they could be learning.

So my idea is to adjust teacher salaries to reflect the mobility of a school, and that should attract and keep experienced teachers in the schools that need them.

Maybe someone else has an idea to deal with the causes of the mobility? How do we create stable jobs, marriages, neighborhoods?

Created on 09/21/04 by Tammy Nara of Shoreview, MN

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4 rating
(10 votes)
Hire a diverse staff!
The teaching staff should be reflective of the community it serves. Does it really take that much thought to understand that concept? Right now seniority is top priority. Who has the most seniority in our public school systems? When lay-offs happen who gets laid off? At what point are the needs of the students and parents that are customers of public schools served as opposed to seniority preference at any cost?

Having a diverse teaching staff benefits everyone. It is training and learning on a daily basis for all involved. It is teaching life skills for getting along in a diverse community. Having a diverse staff would increase student scores and parent involvement. Of that, I am sure.

Created on 09/21/04 by Mary Reis of Saint Paul, MN

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4.5 rating
(4 votes)
Offer loans and scholarships to train more teachers of color
Colleges and Universities should offer scholarships and grants for students of color who wish to pursue a career in teaching. If possible, maybe the government could offer grants or zero interest loans for these young people, as well.

It would also be beneficial for certain colleges to offer more specialized courses or graduate programs in urban education.

Created on 09/16/04 by Sarah Middlebrook of Minneapolis, MN

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3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Enlist "Community Professors" to train urban teachers
I believe that teachers, who are on the front lines, must be trained properly in teaching urban youth, especially African-American.

This could be done by what we call "Community Professors." These are seniors in our community who may have a background in African studies or education who can volunteer their time or be paid a small stipend to train teachers.

The training should be based on understanding that black youth learn based on relationships plus book knowledge. Teachers have to understand that encouragement goes a long way with black youth.

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

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2.5 rating
(2 votes)
Create schools with more sensitive to diversity
The racial gap -- the gap in performance among the races - is worsened by some things the school district does -- and can hopefully be narrowed by changing some things the district does. Currently, as in Minneapolis, the district protects the senior teachers against layoffs.

Because the senior teachers have the opportunity over time to self-select into the schools in the corners of the city, this also protects these middle-class schools. So when layoffs occur the burden, the turmoil, falls disproportionately on the inner-city schools. This happens within the district.

Schools not part of the district, the chartered schools, are outside this system. They have their own teachers. They have their own boards - which may better represent racial diversity than the board of the district. So continuing to develop this chartered sector of public education is probably a part, at least, of any successful effort to close the racial gap.

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

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