Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reality or excuse? In the end, does it matter?

Julie Mack of the Kalamazoo Gazette is an excellent educational writer who looks at issues objectively and then pens some very thoughtful posts: Is it fair to expect teachers in high-poverty schools to be miracle workers?

The school-reform movement — as embodied by No Child Left Behind — adopts a no-excuses approach to education. So while decades of research overwhelmingly indicate that academic outcomes are largely correlated with socio-demographics — and that white, middle-class and affluent children consistently test significantly better than low-income and minority students — No Child expects schools to achieve similar results no matter the student population.

While I certainly agree with her observations about the difficulties all of us who work in poor urban districts face, it should never become an obstacle to our constant desire for improving our profession and providing the best possible learning environment for all of our students, bar none. What it does is forces us to think outside the box (I know that's becoming a tired cliche) to find new ways to overcome as many of these obstacles as we can in the time we have with our kids.

At the end of the day, we may go home a little more tired, a little more bloodied and bruised, but with the deep satisfaction that we did our very best to meet their diverse learning needs.