Posted by: ACFE Inc | April 3, 2011

Justice Sotomayor and the Achievement Gap

Melissa’s response to a question from Parenting Magazine about closing the achievement gap:

I recently had an honor of attending a luncheon with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor  and heard her say; “Until we solve the structural problems that make an equal education available in public and private institutions, we will not be able to reach diversity in society.” This rang so true to me as a mother and as an Educational Consultant.

The main obstacle to closing the achievement gap is that NCLB is mostly concerned with the bare minimum of competencies. In a day-to-day way we can encourage our teachers to find ways to teach beyond just the test; we can look for fun, educational activities for kids to do outside of the classroom and work in conjunction with other parents to get kids to participate. Get with the parents of your child’s friends (or other kids in her class) and take turns doing educational activities/outings with them (after school, weekends,snow days…).

We must work together to move this bar higher, even if in baby steps. We need a Federal Definition of Mastery of Skill. Once a child has mastered a skill, why is it that he or she cannot move on? They must sit for repeated drills, teaching to the test or at best, busy work.

One other important thing is letting our state and federal representatives at all levels of government know that we expect them to make education a priority. We cannot allow education funding to be cut and think that this won’t catch up to us in the near future. We need to make sure that our elected officials know that we do not support cutting funding to our schools. In the more long term, we should encourage our representatives to draft and pass a more equitable funding plan for our schools than the current property-tax system. If we want to close the achievement gap, we need more equitable funding for our schools–and for the present, that means more support and funding for schools and districts that are lagging. The system of funding schools with property taxes in inequitable and instrumental in supporting the achievement gap.

Together we can have a system that works. Alone we suffer 80% failing schools by September 2011.

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