Sunday, May 14, 2006

60 Minutes

60 Minutes aired an intriguing segment on The Harlem Children's Zone.

These charter schools fascinate me. I wonder how long the money will flow. I wonder how much teachers make. I find myself wondering how they will ultimately change the face of education. The truth is that too many of our students are not succeeding. And while some believe it is strictly the fault of the teacher, others recognize the impact that the students themselves, and their parents, have on the process.

In the 60 Minutes segment, Ed Bradley--my favorite of the group, tells us how The Harlem Children's Zone is reaching out to the community and, specifically, the parents. Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the charter school, states:
"Middle-class families know education begins at birth. Poor parents don't know that," Canada explains. "We're just trying to tell the parents, 'Look you have to start giving them the kinds of stimulation that’s gonna help those brains develop.'"

And whether we are talking about pre-school aged kids, elementary or junior high or high school students, this is certainly true.
Yes, all students can learn. That does not mean all students will. And yes, parents play a role. That does not mean they will. And yes, teachers have a great affect. That does not mean they will--but it also doesn't mean that all teachers must follow a script!
Geoffrey Canada also talked about his ability to fire teachers based on their performance. I've mentioned before that if schools had competent administrators and less exclusive central offices where the buddy system seems to be the mode of operation, I would trust them with my career.
Ultimately, in the final analysis, it was pleasant to see that parent involvement is at the foundation of what appears to be a successful operation.


At 10:03 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

And while some believe it is strictly the fault of the teacher, others recognize the impact that the students themselves, and their parents, have on the process.

You've mischaracterized the issue.

I am well aware of the impact that low-SES children have on their education process. I am also aware that this is mostly a low IQ issue, rather than a motivation or bad parenting issue, as you suggest. Furthermore, these kids will always be more difficult to educate than middle class kids.

If it makes you sleep better at night blaming the kids or their parents for this difficulty they're causing you, then by all means don't let me stop you. Though I am also within my right to question your empathy for these kids and your fitness as a teacher of such kids.

Blaming these parents and the students themselves isn't going to solve your problems. Most of these parents don't have the ability to do what you want them to do anyway.

These kids can learn and they can be motivated to learn. With effective instruction. One example of effective instruction is the scripted program you don't seem to like. There may be others that work as well. It is the school's responsibility to use one of these effective instructional programs. When an effective program is used, about 95% of students will reach grade level. There won't be motivational or engagement issues you see when less effective instruction is used. This is part of the reason why these programs are more successful.

So when students in this 95% fail to learn, the school is responsible for their academic failure because they did not effectively teach. To do otherwise is to doom too many kids to the academic failure we presently see.

At 8:56 AM , Blogger Amerloc said...

I don't think this is about BLAMING students or parents, or failing to empathize with them.

Where I see failure is in refusing to acknowledge a significant part of the equation. Let's see if we can't get past e=m, why don't we?


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