Saturday, October 17, 2009

"We can't reform education without fighting poverty"

From a letter in today's NYT:

"Disabled schools are just one product of governments at all levels that fail to provide impoverished families and communities with the resources to raise and educate children successfully.

How about turning schools in poor neighborhoods into year-round community centers, with health and dental services, nutritious meals, up-to-date-libraries and computer labs, after-hours tutoring and recreation for children, and job training, counseling, recrdation and educational classes for adults?....

Remaking schools into community centers... would be far more effective than allowing more charter schools and establishing a system of teacher merit pay..."


Anonymous said...

What would be a better use of $50M:

Turning schools in poor neighborhoods into community centers, OR

Paying consultants to conduct the proposed teacher training initiative?

Kathy Fine said...

This letter is right on the money and just what we have been advocating. In fact, it is an echo of my public hearing testimony from last week. EVERYONE will benefit from this type of community focus on education.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Nor can we reform education without suspending gravity too.

Fighting poverty is a great, noble battle we all should wage. But, we can reform education as well as fight poverty in parallel.

Guess my skin begins to crawl when I hear, "We can't ..."

How about, "We can reform education while fighting poverty." Isn't education a key to success / better life / departure of poverty? Is the logic of the order upside down?

Now I'll go read the article.

Questioner said...

Am astute issue to raise because this letter to the editor was in response to an article in the NYT claiming that "we can't fight poverty without reforming education."

It's a chicken and egg problem, but picture the situations faced by PPS now. There are teenagers left in charge of younger siblings for days and weeks on end, children struggling to deal with serious illnesses of what may be the only parent in the home, and children living in homes where the heat has been shut off. Only if these urgent needs are addressed can any real education take place.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Urgent needs must be addressed, i.e., heat in the house, etc.

Those needs need to be owned by society at large. That includes PPS but isn't exclusive to PPS. PPS has many roles to fill in helping families and students. PPS had better have plenty of partners and had better be in a background role in many situations.

It takes a village.

Questioner said...

The problem is- reality. Those needs should be, but are not being, addressed by the larger society. Caseworkers are often assigned huge loads for low pay. We don't have the political will to do something about it.

But if we stop and think about how these situations affect test scores- well, there's an angle. There seem to be numerous funding sources out there interested in test scores. Maybe because a change in scores is measureable while a reduction is misery is harder to measure. And/or because improving education seems to be like a good way to get at the root of the problem rather than just addressing symptoms.

Whatever the reason, an army of additional social workers in schools to connect students to available resources, as was suggested on this blog, seems like an idea worth considering. Or better yet, school based community centers.