Culture and the Achievement Gap

Charlene Collazo:

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Education Testing Service’s Achievement Gap Symposium, which addressed research and solutions for our education system in Pre-K-third grade, especially for low-income, minority and African American students. What I found most interesting was a comment Jerry D. Weast, Superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools and one of the speakers, said: “structure drives your culture and culture drives your expectations.” Weast believes the achievement gap can be solved if a district or school can establish a culture with high expectations.
To do this, teachers should be mentors and role models. All children, especially minority students need someone like Mrs. Menendez, my kindergarten teacher, who told me that I would grow up to be a great lawyer one day. She also told my parents that they needed to make sure they did everything in their power to get me through high school and college. Today, my master’s program is nearly done and law school is next on the schedule. Parents of minority and low-income children need this kind of one-on-one advice.