Monday, November 21, 2005

Changing NCLB standards abandons kids in poverty

Did you see the article last week in the Chicago Tribune about changing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to a standard that would measure student progress each year rather than demand that all students meet the same standards?

The article includes a quote that says "There are things that get in the way of learning that schools have no control over." To me, this let's the teacher and the school off the hook! If this new way of measuring school performance gets accepted, schools in high poverty neighborhoods, or with large numbers of ESL students, can use this as an excuse for not doing the extra work needed to help these kids rise to an equal level of learning. The result would be to abandon efforts to improve education attainment. It would further institutionalize a permanent underclass in America.

Right now the Chicago Public School's education policy makes little strategic commitment to forming non-school learning, mentoring and social/emotional support systems that would counter the negative influences of poverty and send kids to school every-day better prepared to learn. If the system moves to adequate yearly process there will be no motivation for school leaders to focus on what happens during the non-school hours.

Is this a concern? How are you using the Internet to connect with others who have similar concerns? I presented a workshop in a virtual conference last Saturday. The archive is at http://www.alado.net/webheads. I encourage you to take a look, and to review some of the other presentations that were part of the Nov. 18 to 20 Webheads in Action international convergence. One workshop demonstrated the use of the Internet to send out public radio broadcasts. Another demonstrated the use of blogs for learning.

If we can harness these technologies and make them available at schools and in community based organizations, we can empower our kids with tools that give them a voice and enable them to take a lead in mobilizing adults to do more of what adults should do to mentor them into our next generation of leaders.

If the schools and government leaders and major foundations don't make this a priority, it's up to those who meet via the Internet to provide the tools and elearning platforms that might make it possible for small, isolated, community-based organizations to build a networked community that increases non-school learning and career development opportunities for kids throughout the world.

As we give thanks this week for our blessings, please remember those who have less and need your help.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

I ran into your blogger and started reading it. I was surprised on your reaction to them changing "The No Child Left Behind" which you posted on November 21, 2005. In a perfect world all schools should be held accountable for their students performing at the levels of other school. However, high-poverty area have more to overcome than area that are not high poverty. The "upper" social class will never experience problems as the "lower" social class in terms of education. Because of this is unfair to have the same educational standards for high poverty/risk students and ESL students as children who are from an area of "upper class". I wish all students could be taught the same, but its hard to explain certain topics to children who have never experienced them for themselves. I think measuring their growth is a good thing. Have a good Thanksgiving!!!

-M

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks for your comments, but you miss my point. If the goal is for kids in high poverty/risk areas to get the education, sills, and networks that lead them out of poverty, we must continue to challenge the schools and the more affluent social classes to innovate new ways to reach, teach and mentor. This is not happening through the schools and the schools don't have any strategic policy to encourage the use of non-school hours for learning and mentoring.

I'm not intendending to penalize teachers who work with high risk students. My focus is to continue to challenge the nation to do more to help high poverty kids get the extra support they need.