This week, I’m adding a new category to my blog: Systemic Change. In this category, I will post links to great articles published on the web that offer excellent insight into how we can best improve our nation’s public school system. These articles will address one of the root causes of inequality in America: poverty.
My first article, No, Seriously: No Excuses, was published in The New York Times earlier this summer. It is a piece by Paul Tough, author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.
Here’s a short excerpt:
The reformers’ policy goals are, in most cases, quite worthy. Yes, contracts should be renegotiated so that the best teachers are given incentives to teach in the poorest schools, and yes, school systems should extend the school day and school year for low-income students, as many successful charter schools have done. But these changes are not nearly sufficient. As Paul Reville, the Massachusetts secretary of education, wrote recently in Education Week, traditional reform strategies “will not, on average, enable us to overcome the barriers to student learning posed by the conditions of poverty.” Reformers also need to take concrete steps to address the whole range of factors that hold poor students back. That doesn’t mean sitting around hoping for utopian social change. It means supplementing classroom strategies with targeted, evidence-based interventions outside the classroom: working intensively with the most disadvantaged families to improve home environments for young children; providing high-quality early-childhood education to children from the neediest families; and, once school begins, providing low-income students with a robust system of emotional and psychological support, as well as academic support.
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