Thursday, December 27, 2007

When Communities go to school...comment

Since I am an advocate of education reform in general and urban education in particular, my interest in SuperSpade's proposal piqued my interests.

A few things.
Most NCLB supplemental education services are remediation only. That means tutoring or doing more of the same. Some kids need this. But most kids are bored by it. I feel if you're going to have supplement ed, then supplement, not repeat. Offer students fun, active learning opportunities. Educational field trips or speakers or presentations are just what most children need to help lessons come to life. Science is a perfect example. Talking about and defining diffusion is almost meaningless. Host an after school activity where kids actually observe the process of diffusion. Take examples from real life. Invite local college science professors or students to come to present.

Parents and teachers are often put at odds with each other, especially in urban school districts. This sad relationship and the focus on "Count Day and Standardized test performances" are products of what Professor Haberman calls the Pedagogy of Poverty. I think it's a shame because most adults (parents, teachers, school administrators, and community members) want our children to safely and successfully matriculate through school, even if we can't agree to what that means.

Having Community members (such as scientists, engineers, technicians, and business professionals) become apart of the "learning support team" is a great idea. And one that has been bounced around a lot. Urban youth do need more than school personnel and parents in their ear. They need a whole community. Former National Urban League President, Hugh Price, has been a proponent of community support for years. He summarizes his vision, plan and successes in his book, Achievement Matters. It is an easy read and a perfect place for SuperSpade to start for his proposal.

However, I am concerned about the time commitment of his proposal. (Yes, our children are worth it, but...) Two months in the summer, assuming a few days a week, half days, and participating during the school day may very hard to pull off. Typically, younger professionals are very interested and eager to participate in such programs, but often don't have the flexibility at their jobs at that point. It's just hard to negotiate so much time, even for something so great and important.

Good luck with everything.

1 comment:

Brandon Q. said...

Thanks for the shoutout!

I believe you cited one of the biggest problems facing education today, "I feel if you're going to have supplement ed, then supplement, not repeat." I would go so far as to say that in some instances our core curriculum serves a more supplementary role than it should.

All the ideas you cited require money and like all things you get what you pay for. You invest in the military, you get (unjustified) wars. You invest in education, you get a surplus of engineers and creative young professionals. (read Japan and China)

I agree with your critique that young professionals don't have alot of flexibility in their schedule, which is why I think it is important to make it economically viable to encourage their employees to volunteer. These incentives could come in the form of tax breaks or some other form.

I think it is incumbent for us to look at what the biggest obstacle to pulling together communities to help bolster student achievement and find the necessary solutions.

Thanks again,
Brandon Q.