Sunday, June 22, 2008

Raising the "Achievement Gap:" In Perspective

Real World Educators for Active Learning has an important post about what it means to really improve public education: "Dialogues for the Rich (& Poor). In the quest to close the achievement gap, it's important to take a step back and look at what we've defined "achievement" as. What are students learning? What are we really aiming for when we seek to close the gap in test scores? Will education really be "equal" then?

Dr. Rios says:
Are people really concerned with fixing the public system? Who does this system currently serve? And finally, if historically the only consistent determining variable for student outcomes has been socio-economic status of the child – then we need to ask: How are wealthy kids being educated in this country and in whose best interest? Perhaps the problem is not about how much different students are learning and that Black students are learning less than White students; the problem is possibly what all students are learning and that all students are learning in ways that perpetuate oppressive ideologies (Kumashiro, 2008). Raising the “achievement gap” in the current education system is counterproductive if what is being taught is biased to begin with and the current system does not invite us to investigate into the nature of ideologies being taught to students who are considered “successful.”
She continues:
What are we teaching about life, sustainability and living together? What are our priorities and what do we value as a society? Can you promise our youth that if they “do all the right things” that they will be guaranteed a piece of the pie? Does working harder and for more hours increase your wage? Does your salary equate intelligence or your position in a company? Who is calling the shots in this country and what did they score on their SAT’s? When will the poor be able to stop dancing for money and when will the rich open their door – not for charity, but for humanity?