“Poor Kids Aren’t Dolts — Push Them Harder”

Wendy Kopp (President and Founder of Teach for America):

According to the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup survey, the most recent of which was released in September, most Americans cite a lack of parental involvement, as well as problems in students’ home life and upbringing and their lack of interest and motivation as the most important reasons for the huge gap between the achievement levels of students in upper- and middle-class neighborhoods and those in poor neighborhoods. More than 75% of those polled said they believe that white students and students of color have the same academic opportunities.
In contrast, Teach for America corps members, who are in those poor neighborhoods every school day, say the key to closing that gap is to train and employ better teachers and improve the quality of the leaders who make decisions in schools and school districts — while simultaneously ensuring that teachers, principals and parents expect the kids to meet challenging academic standards.

Much more, including this, here:

Funding, in itself, is not the answer. Teacher quality and expectations of students outranked funding as both causes of and solutions to the gap. And as corps members spend more time in the classroom, the priority they place on funding gives way to other factors, such as school leadership. While some of their proposed solutions may require further investment, corps members express skepticism about increasing funding without addressing current allocation of resources.

Via Joanne.

One thought on ““Poor Kids Aren’t Dolts — Push Them Harder””

  1. To quote further from the LA Times Commentary (cited in this posting):
    TEACH FOR America recently asked 2,000 of our corps members whether they feel that the public understands the causes of the educational achievement gap that persists along socioeconomic and racial lines in this nation, and if they think people have a grasp of the right solutions.
    These enterprising teachers are top recent college graduates of all academic majors who have committed two years to educating students in our nation’s lowest-income urban and rural communities. They are in the trenches, witnessing the problems of education with fresh eyes. And 98% of them answered the above questions with a “no.”
    Without disparagng their commitment, note who these teachers are: top recent college graduates who decided to teach for 2 years.
    Though I happen to agree that increasing rigor and focus on academics at the schools, and highly qualified teachers are the key to all kids’ success (because I’ve read such comments from successful teachers who’ve had such success over MANY years), opinions from “wet-behind-the-ears” kids is poorly hidden PR.
    Watching, learning from, listening to the veteran successful teacher is where we must place our focus, not to beginners.

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