Last week I ran across an article in the Washington Post by a teacher. In this article T.C. Williams High School teacher Patrick Welsh explains why he believes that the biggest factor in the achievement gap is not just race but is instead the lack of a father in the homes of his students. From the article:
My students knew intuitively that the reason they were lagging academically had nothing to do with race, which is the too-handy explanation for the achievement gap in Alexandria. And it wasn’t because the school system had failed them. They knew that excuses about a lack of resources and access just didn’t wash at the new, state-of-the-art, $100 million T.C. Williams, where every student is given a laptop and where there is open enrollment in Advanced Placement and honors courses. Rather, it was because their parents just weren’t there for them — at least not in the same way that parents of kids who were doing well tended to be.
In an example of how bad the fixation on race here has become, last year Morton Sherman, the new superintendent, ordered principals throughout the city to post huge charts in their hallways so everyone — including 10-year-old kids — could see differences in test scores between white, black and Hispanic students. One mother told me that a black fifth-grader at Cora Kelly Magnet School said that “whoever sees that sign will think I am stupid.” A fourth-grade African American girl there looked at the sign and said to a friend: “That’s not me.” When black and white parents protested that impressionable young children don’t need such information, administrators accused them of not facing up to the problem. Only when the local NAACP complained did Sherman have the charts removed.
In the article one student professed that other kids did well because they had a father who kicked their butts and made them do the work.
BMWK, are these kids right on point or are they making excuses for not doing the work? Is the educational gap more of a social issue instead of a white\black issue the way it’s normally categorized? What can be done to help these kids do better in school?
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