Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Is Great Teaching Enough?

Today was the second School Policy Luncheon held at the Union League Club in Chicago, and organized by Catalyst-Chicago. One of the speakers was Michael E. Woolley, M.S. S., Ph.D., University of Chicago, SSA.

During the first event, held in November, Charles Payne, author of “So Much Reform, So Little Change,” and Penny Bender Sebring, founding co-director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research provided information that illustrated how schools in high poverty areas which have high levels of social capital perform better than similar schools with less social capital.

In this presentation Sebring described social capital in two ways. Bonding Capital is the connections made between people within the community to each other. It happens when people attend faith services, go bowling together, and through other group interactions. Bridging Capital is what connects youth and families within a community with people and experiences beyond the neighborhood.

Catalyst-Chicago has posted live recordings of the November event, along with the presentation materials used. This is a great resource and I encourage you to use it in building a better understanding of the ways tutor/mentor programs expand 'bridging capital' and 'bonding capital' in inner city neighborhoods, and how that impacts school performance.

In today's presentation, Dr. Woolley presented evidence showing that the more social capital and positive adults involved in the lives of inner city kids, the more likely that they will do better in school.

I did a search on Google to find out more about Dr. Woolley, and saw that he had been quoted in an August 2008 Chicago Sun Times series about the impact of violence on the performance of kids in school. "Small world," I said to myself. I created maps and wrote about this article on this blog.

I hope to connect with Dr. Woolley, and other researchers and advocates, in order to make this evidence known so that funders will begin to spread dollars to school and non-school solutions, and will evaluate volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs based on their ability to create and sustain relationships between inner-city youth and volunteers from beyond the neighborhood, rather than trying to align the work of these programs with classroom learning and the extended school day.

If you know of such people, or if you're trying to build a similar case to support volunteer based tutor/mentor programs, let's find places to connect, such as the T/MC web site, or the T/MC ning site.

If you're a person looking to make a major donation, why not use it to support non-school tutor/mentor programs in inner city neighborhoods, instead of building another building on a college or hospital campus.

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