Thursday, March 24, 2022

20 years of failed education reform - SSIR article

Last week I posted an article talking about the "Social Determinants of Education" and how important it is to look at the conditions of the community outside of a school to understand influences on performance of youth in the school. 

Today I read a 2020 article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review titled "How 20 Years of Education Reform Has Created Greater Inequality," written by Michael A. Seelig, Ed.D, the education policy director and senior advisor to the president of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York,

This is a long article that shows "four major forces that converged since 2000 to shape how the school reform movement widened inequality: standardized testing, gentrification, school choice, and household economic downturn."

I highlighted text from the fourth factor:  

The highlighted text reads, "What renders so many education reform efforts futile from the outset -- so much so that we avoid talking about it -- is the fact that a student's academic achievement, with few exceptions, is completely tethered to the family's income and the opportunities it can provide."

Below is a paragraph from the conclusions part of the article:

The highlighted text says "We need much better measurement of organizational performance that both recognized the wider geography of schools and communities and accounts for the collateral damage we are leaving in the wake of our efforts." 

A process that collects information related to the "Social Determinants of Education" and a dashboard that measures progress toward goals would be a starting point. Take a look at the webinar that I point to in this article

This gap in opportunity between rich and poor was the theme of Dr. Robert D. Putnam's "Our Kids" book, which I wrote about in several past articles, starting in 2015. 

This gap can be shown on maps, which again is why I encourage you to read the article about "Social Determinants of Education" and look at the dashboard being suggested.  Since 1993 I've used maps to show the geographic gap between rich and poor in Chicago and other cities. I keep looking for other leaders to do the same on a consistent basis. 

Below I show a graphic that I've used since the mid-1990s to show the potential for non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs to help build a richer, more diverse community of support for kids in high poverty areas.  

Here's one article where I use this graphic.  This presentation shows it in another format. 

I recall one of my volunteers looking at this once and exclaiming, "You're trying to build a support system for these kids similar to what is already available to kids in wealthy, and more affluent neighborhoods!" 

Yes. That's been my purpose for more than 40 years, although I did not really begin to understand what it was that I was doing until the mid 1990s.  And it's taken many years of reading hundreds of articles like this SSIR article, for me to understand why this is so important.

I added the article to the research section of my library, where it joins more than 100 other articles. 

The problem, which I've focused on since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 is that "too few people really care" enough to make the changes needed.  

In fact, it may be that the self-interest of too many people means they work actively, or unconsciously, against needed reforms. 

Dr. Seelig's article ends, saying "We must recognize the existential threat a system that enhances inequality poses to democracy and need to push through the inevitable fatigue that emerges when we see something before us as too big, or too ambitious."  He ends with "American democracy depends on it."

If you've read this far, and you care about this issue, become the YOU in this graphic and share the article, my library and other articles like this with people you know and encourage them to do the same.

Keep doing it for the next 20 years.

I share my articles and highlight those of others on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.  (see links here).  I hope you'll follow me, share my posts, and introduce me to others who may be doing work similar to what I do.

Furthermore, if you are able, I'd appreciate a small contribution to help me continue doing this work Visit this page to learn more. 

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