Sunday, March 20, 2011

We Have More Than An Achievement Gap

Friday was a difficult day in my classroom. Some students were making behavior choices that interrupted their and our community's learning. I felt like we were back in the first month of school establishing expectations. I counseled, then sent so many to Buddy Rooms, the intervention room and the office.

Some days this is what teachers have to do. But as I worked through the day, the talk of school board candidates from the prior evening mixed with the morning talk of my students relating events in their lives. It rumbled around in my head. Actually, they crashed into each other as I tried to control my anger and confusion over family situations and candidates' platforms.

My school went through a "reorganization" to close the achievement gap and we are having tremendous results. We were to become a model school for other school in the district facing similar challenges. So why don't candidates reference our work and results? Why did one candidate I spoke to not even know what occurred and our continued hard work?

Do candidates understand how life is in B.'s home when he tells me about the fighting of the evening before which made it hard to do homework. Again this time I believe him as the descriptions of a baseball bat breaking furniture and glass had a lot of detail. What about the tears of O. as she comes in late asking to eat some breakfast in her backpack. Mom didn't get up early enough to get them all ready and life in the shelter is difficult. Or the two phone calls from S.'s family. Limited ability to process life makes it a struggle for them all. These are just the ones who spoke to me today. As I think of my students, several more have similar "achievement gap factor" stories-like parents recently incarcerated and now they live with relatives.

I stand in the middle. I experience all the factors that cause achievement gaps because I observe it daily. I teach in a school designed to address these factors and we have results.

But we have a gap in our school district. It is an information gap. Perhaps it is also a gap between middle and upper-class white candidates, who truly want to affect change in our schools, and the student learners living vastly different lives.

How to close all these gaps?


  1. I don't understand how someone would want to run for a board position without knowing important things about the system, but you told your story well & I'm not surprised. It seems that many at the 'top' don't know what is happening on the other rungs of the ladder. Is it possible to ask your principal to tell the school's story to the candidates? Maybe that would help you at least know that they knew the good things you have done. Sorry for your rough day!

  2. I'm sorry to hear about your day as well. I sympathy with you. Well I could also empathize too. Students come from radically different situations these days than they used to and some people just have no idea. I'll be thinking of you and pray that this situation becomes apparent to the candidates.